The Debate Rages On Considering Building-wide Smoking Bans

 Concern over health and an evolving legal landscape has prompted a number of  condo and co-op boards in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, as well as communities  across New England to ban cigarette smoking in individual smoking units. This  restriction has ignited a debate over health/nuisance versus individual rights,  and both sides can be vehement in advocating for their position.  

 Harbor Towers on East India Row in Boston, the city’s largest condominium complex, is the latest condo community to amend its bylaws  and go smoke-free. The twin, waterfront 40-story luxury high rise buildings’ residents voted to ban smoking in all common areas, outside areas and within  each unit. The new amendment went into effect in March. The new clause contains a provision  that will allow current residents, both owners and renters, to continue smoking  in their units. When a unit is sold or rented to a new tenant, the smoking ban  will kick in for that space. The condo’s trustees and unit owners voted 80 percent in favor of the new rules. Penalties  for violators are being worked out.  

 “When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing to get 80 percent of people to agree on anything,” says Richard M. Atwater Jr., general manager of Harbor Towers Condominiums. “A very small percentage of people voted against it. If people voted against it,  my sense is that either they were current smokers and they felt strongly about  their right to smoke or if they were a non-smoker, they may have felt that this  was too over-reaching to go into people’s residences. That’s my guess; I can’t go inside of people’s heads.”  

 Last year, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton Towers, Boston Common, went  completely smoke-free with no grandfather clause for any of its 132 units of  the north high-rise tower. Rule-breakers will get a written warning following  the first infraction, a $500 fine for the second and the Ritz-Carlton condo  association will pursue court action after that.  

 The debate over public health and property value versus individual rights is  ongoing with no immediate end in sight over this pervasive, volatile issue.  


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  • If we are to ban everything that makes us ill in our personal space, I would like to ban perfume, and have child free restaraunts. Both perfume and children in an enclosed space give me a headache.