Pain in the butt! How to deal with a neighbor who smokes

Over the years, PSP members have asked the group about smelling cigarette and cigar smoke from their neighbors.


"Looking for advice on how to deal with a cigar smoking neighbor. With warm weather approaching I'd really like to have the  windows open but this guy smokes right under with my sons window. I'm afraid that when the AC unit is in the smoke will just pour in. He's mostly a pretty cranky guy. How would you handle this?"


"Has anyone experienced a downstairs neighbor who smokes alot and it started coming into your apartment? Especially in a laundry area I guess b/c there is a vent there? What is the best way to stop this? Any ideas?"


Here are PSP member replies to questions like this:

1. Cover any holes and outlets in the wall
2. Compassionately and kindly approach the neighbor with simple action items they can do to help the situation (smoke outside, by windows, get fans)
3. Change the building policy to be non-smoking
4. Offer to buy a vape
5. Buy a smoke grabber ashtray


NYC gov resources:


Full replies:

"Ah, yes, "the downstairs neighbor who smokes a lot" - a familiar problem that the other 3 apartments in the building have had to deal with. From my extensive research I did online, the common suggestion is to cover all outlets or other holes in your walls, as that is usually how the smoke is coming into your apartment. Problematic that it's in your laundry area as you can't really cover that vent! We have, at various points in time, confronted the neighbor. We've been empathetic but also have encouraged them to understand our perspective, as we all are bothered by it. We never approached him as a group nor "building" so as to not seem too aggressive. To his credit, he has gone to great lengths to help improve the issue - smoke by windows, install fans/filters, and also just smoke less inside the apartment. Unfortunately, absent of us changing the building policy to become a non-smoking one (you could pursue that route), this is something we'll need to learn to live with. Until, perhaps, we all pitch in and get him a fancy vape cigarette or other high-tech contraption that the tobacco companies may be working on… Good luck!


"Has the neighbor tried a Smoke Grabber Ashtray? Maybe you can buy one for them (they start at $10). I’m not sure they work (the reviews are mixed), but if you can reduce the amount of smoke in the air maybe that will help?


"I already answered to the original sender but thought it could be good to share with the group. Just wanted to let you know that my building went smoke free a few months ago (smoking is allowed only in private outdoor areas now) exactly because family with children and pregnant women were getting smoke odor inside their houses. Talk to your board, if you have one, or just your neighbors... This might be something a lot if people are interested in and you don't know. My building has almost 100 apts and I was surprised to see how the overwhelming majority voted for a smoke free place."


My building did the same. I did a lot of research at the time because I was pushing for smoke free, and the fact is that current ventilation systems are not able to 'filter out' or remove smoke from a building, plus it seeps through the walls etc. People don't have a right to smoke indoors but you have a right to breath smoke-free air and to protect your children from cigarette smoke in your home. Those lovely chemicals include cadmium (carcinogen used in paint), formaldehyde (embalming fluid), naphthalene (moth balls), arsenic (used in rat poison) and lead."


"Ugh. I guess you can wait and see how bad it is when your AC is in.
Is there anything you can think of that your neighbor might appreciate from you that you could offer? Or, stop by with a bottle of his favorite brandy, tell him the cigar smoke comes in your son's window and wonder if there is anything that can be done about it? Best to keep things nice and friendly among neighbors in my opinion.
I feel your pain. We just had a really ugly confrontation with our landlord about our stroller in the hallway. We do not store it in the hallway and keep it in our basement area. However, he's now told us we can't have it in the hallway "even for one second" for loading/unloading. Which is bordering on harassment in my opinion. I'm waiting to see if he continues to give us a hard time or just happened to be in a bad mood that day. He's also old and cranky.
One more story: We sometimes get strong diesel fumes in our backyard and sometimes we can even smell it in our apartment. Difficult to tell where it is coming from- our block is partly industrial. A few months ago I called 311 thinking I could leave a complaint with DEP or something. But I was immediately connected to fire department and had 6 firefighters in my apartment before I knew it.
There was nothing they could do and they told me, "This is New York, if you want fresh air, move to Nebraska." So there's that... ;)