The Water Cooler – Neighbors Who Smoke

March 5, 2014 12:00 pm · 105 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Today’s water cooler question comes from a Claycordian who needs a little help dealing with a situation.

So, what would you do?

Here’s the back-story….

I have a question that I thought maybe everybody could help me with. I live in Pleasant Hill and have a home-based business, so I am home most of the day & night. My neighbor, who doesn’t have a job, and brags about how he can last forever on unemployment and food stamps, smokes about 10 packs of cigarettes a day (not that much, but you get it). He smokes on his side yard and the smoke is constantly coming over to my yard and into my home. I have asked him if he can even go to the middle of his yard, or switch sides once in a while, but he said his chairs are set up to let him “relax” on my side, so he won’t move.

What do I do? HELP!!!!

Talk about it….

just a concordian March 5, 2014 at 12:04 PM

I don’t complain when my neighbors massive tree leaves fall onto my yard every fall. Nor do I complain when another neighbor’s kids scream and shout all summer weekends on their swingset. Nor do I complain when another neighbor has loud parties on Sunday night at 9-11 PM. It’s part of living in a neighborhood. If you don’t like it, go find a house in the middle of the forest where no one will bother you. Jeez! Some people!!!

frambley1 March 5, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Sounds made up to me. You lost me at the claim that he could live on food stamps and unemployment forever. That is just an out and out lie, and a myth. Unemployment only lasts for 26 weeks. That’s it. No more than that. Full stop.

Anon777 March 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

First, I am a NON-smoker and this is just my opinion. Close your windows. Maybe put a fan in your window, blowing outward and the smoke will be redirected. While it’s unfortunate that he won’t move to another side of the yard when he smokes, he has the right to smoke on his property. There are not many places a smoker can go anymore, so he is within his rights.

anon March 5, 2014 at 12:13 PM

reasoning usually doesnt work w/ smokers who because their smoking rights dont care that they are harming or offending others. The law needs to change. but in the meantime do you have something in your fridge that needs to be thrown out something like cabbage or broccoli or if you have some raw meat that is probably too late to cook, let them get a little smellier and place it so that the offensive odor will drift in that direction. You may need to use a fan. Raw fish that has gone bad is also a very good odor producer. If he says anything, ‘what? i’m on my side of the fence.’.

Eddie spaghetti March 5, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Sounds like a good question for a lawyer

DM March 5, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Step1. Go to Step 2. Buy stink bombs. Step 3 close your windows. Final step. Throw them over the fence by his chairs.

Festus March 5, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Report him to unemployment for ripping them off! he will be cut off and have to go back to work (or go to jail for fraud)
Get an air Purifier for your home
Make it hard for him to “Relax” n your side by singing loudly when he comes out! ha
I feel for you. Neighbors can be sooooo annoying and clueless.

NatureGirl March 5, 2014 at 12:22 PM

@just a claycordian
The main difference between cigarette smoke and leaves or noise is that cigarette smoke causes cancer and is bad for your health, so your comparison is ridiculous.

I also have a neighbor whose smoke comes into my yard. When my son was a newborn with colic, one of the few places he would be content was outside swinging in our hammock. But I didn’t want him out there with the smoke. So I’d have to bring him inside and close all the doors and windows when someone was smoking.

I thought of asking them to move to the front yard, but it didn’t happen more than once a day, and I noticed that they started smoking in the front of the house anyway.

anon #4 has some good ideas…

Annoying March 5, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Put on some loud polka music with speakers directed at his chairs. He lits up, you lit up the music.

Greg in Pleasant Hill March 5, 2014 at 12:24 PM

#1 pretty much sums it up.

Joe Blow March 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Ok, I agree people can smoke on their own property, but how do we feel about people with barking dogs? I don’t mean an occasional bark now and then, I’m talking non stop hour long or more!

Rob March 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

How does someone get unemployment forever? There is a time limit to unemployment…

Since the other person has already said they they essentially don’t care – you will have to be willing to escalate the issue and the question for you is – how much are you willing to escalate the issue?

The first step would be to call the Police and find out if there are any ordinances – of course the Police may just want to get rid of you and won’t actually know or care to look so you may not be able to depend on them…

The city of PH has their municipal codes online you can check to see if there is a muni code for the issue…

anon March 5, 2014 at 12:30 PM

oh i just remembered w/ st. patty’s day around the corner….cabbage will be very cheap. some people like to ferment cabbage, but if you dont add the salt it rots and smells. so if you get a nice big tube to ferment cabbage and forget the salt that should give off quite an odor, but there is a delicacy from Europe
Now this will surely knock anybody out. I did not read this whole article so just in case it doesnt say…..I believe this can be accounted for. When certain people were crossing the border in Europe during wartime they carried a few tins of this with them. Well they looked suspicious to the guards and so they opened them and when they did the smell was so horrific they thought it was some sort of military weapon such as gas or bomb. maybe the article talks about it.

Ted K., SuperMax March 5, 2014 at 12:33 PM


1. Buy the property on which he resides and kick him out.
2. Close your windows.
3. Aim a large commercial fan in his general direction
4. Observe and respect private property rights.
5. Whine to the local government officials to pass an ordinance to prohibit smoking on private property (like Walnut Creek did).
6. Move.
7. Vote for candidates who support limiting the terms that unemployment insurance is available and for candidates who support private sector job creation.

NASAist March 5, 2014 at 12:33 PM

The last thing you’d want to do is retaliate and make things worse. No need to start a war! True, he is completely within his rights to smoke on his property, but a reasonable neighbor would respect the request to try to mediate your issues. Since he’s obviously some kind of jerk (or really really dumb) who isn’t motivated by the desire to be amenable, then you need to find something else that will motivate him. There are plenty of ways to manipulate people without landing yourself in a bigger mess (feigning allergies for yourself or others, bribery, incentives on the opposite side of the yard.)

anon March 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

frambley can you back that hot air up? This is common problem. Your judgement in the issue shows you have no idea what is going on around you. I dont know if it passed but ccc had plans for it to be illegal for people living in apts. to smoke outside their units.

also cigarette smoke contains carcinogens, is that a new thought? for people that have asthma, allergies, or immune issues this is a big problem for them. only people that take this issue lightly are ones that either smoke, or have never experience asthma or seen someone having an attack. Leaves from a neighbors tree, children screaming and loud music are annoying but they are not toxic to our health.

JET March 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

I’m sorry but this is totally out of line. The guy isn’t in an apartment or condo (and i assume it is a detached single family home?).

All of you anti-smoking activists need to give it a rest!!
Years ago when they asked smokers to stay at least 25 feet from buildings, that was reasonable… eventually laws were passed for no smoking allowed in mulit-unit buildings – which was pushing it a bit, but still understandable given the second hand smoke risks. But this has gone too far. Isn’t it enough that smokers already aren’t allowed to light up in downtown WC or Concord, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

This guy isn’t blowing smoke into your windows is he? That is HIS RIGHT to smoke in his yard!! Mind your own business.

Hump Day March 5, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Err on the side of getting along with your neighbors, especially if you’re a homeowner. A 30 year investment is a long time.

I’m a non-smoker, but I learned a long time ago the best way to have a good neighbor is to be a good neighbor. We know and like our neighbors, and we don’t complain about each other. We let each other “live their lives.” If you get to know and like someone, your tolerance level increases for the better, as long as there are respectful boundaries.

I would close my windows, and open them back up when the smokes goes away.

anon March 5, 2014 at 12:47 PM

yes my first thought was awful music. you dont know he just might be from pgh. pa. and his favorite son is ‘beer barrel polka’. so i was thinking more like middle eastern music with the loud high pitched annoying drive a nail through you skull instruments along with the most hideous human noise they call singing i believe.

this is close to home for me as my mom was a big smoker and in the winter theres no opening the windows to the car or house. My eyes would burn, my throat would burn then the post nasal drip or glop more like. My mom’s response, and angry ‘be quiet’ when I told her about it or asked her not to smoke now.

Mister Wister March 5, 2014 at 12:48 PM

It’s “Paddy”. Patty is a chicks name.

anon March 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM

dm, now see, you’re on the right track but the throwing over the fence I dont think is legal and it is offensive and i dont know about legally buying stink bombs. whereas fish can be found everywhere.

A March 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM

You don’t like it, then you hang out in another part of your house.
Use a fan to redirect the smoke. Close your windows.

We need to... March 5, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Ban, tobacco, sugar, all fat, guns, knives, fire places,
Bad drugs, alcohol , wood, plastic,natural and man
made fabrics,fire retardant chemicals,T.V.’s, computers,
cell phones, micro wave transmissions,
The list goes on folks, just about everything
that has gaseous emissions, factories, refineries,
dust created by farming loaded with pesticides and
chemical fertilizers, dust blowing on windy days.
So come on , can’t we get along with this smoking thing.
If he is being a pain, perhaps you haven’t
taken the right approach. But if we allow to much
regulation regarding what you can or can’t do
in your own home and property, than we are all in
trouble! Oh yah , to much perfume on trains, room
deodorizers , incense, hair spray , hair coloring,
some make up, anti-persperant…

How about overwhelming kindness? March 5, 2014 at 1:10 PM

From the note, the smoker is the kind of character few would like as a neighbor.

Instead of responding to his poor and adversarial character traits, be overly kind. All sorts of things can be done that don’t need to cost anything. Take his paper to the porch, greet him kindly whenever you see him. Compliment his family, life style, and character. Treat him with all of the kindness and respect you would love to receive.

That generally works.

RANDOM TASK March 5, 2014 at 1:11 PM

yeah move ….had several problems through years mostly related to being so close to neighbors ….some people can handle it and have no problems …..I moved and have noon behind or right next to meh and feels good. If you can not move then look to your city council to make a law up so you cant do anything in your back yard ….since they obviously lean that way anyways ….oh but make sure you find out who their friends are first o they can put in a good word for yas. The city council has nothing better to do than shoot you down unless their friends request something than it becomes law….. oh sorry their term is ordinance……their way or the highway the city council makes no push to help anyone unless it is their friends…and or someone giving em lots of money on the side. TOODLES

KHLOE March 5, 2014 at 1:12 PM

I feel so bad for you! My neighbor does the same thing but he smokes marijauna. It stinks and im scared my dogs will get a contact high.

Anon2you March 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

@ anon – You are killing me…The right answer is #1…Your answer(s) are annoying, stupid and will escalate into a feud. How does that help? Both homeowners have rights, and both have to compromise. Cigarette smoking is NOT illegal everyone. I know a lot of you believe it IS or should be but the fact is it is not. I believe being stupid should be illegal but there is no law on the books for that either. Like it or not that man has the right to smoke in the back yard of his house. Although leaves and noisy children may not be “dangerous” they are extremely annoying and invasive to ones environment. I fill my garbage can weekly with leaves & debris from my neighbors trees, they kill my grass and that is a real and substantial cost to me. My neighbor’s kids annoy the crap out of me, that causes me stress and could lead to real health issues in my life, a stretch of logic I know, but I also do not believe that the “smell” of cigarette smoke from a house away is causing you to get cancer either I call BS on that crap. The correct advice is: Close your windows…

Rollo Tomasi March 5, 2014 at 1:15 PM

As you have a home based business to run, I assume it’s important that you don’t miss incoming phone calls? An industrial buzzer or two installed outside of your home (a large one on that side) that are hooked into your phone line might do the trick, especially if your incoming call volume increases when he is outside “relaxing”. You are well within your rights to make sure you can hear your phone ring from all parts of your property.

@Mister Wister: I’m pretty sure it’s St. PATRICK’S day, not St. PADRAIG’S day.

Julie March 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Ask him if you can buy him a smokeless ashtray

ConcordMike March 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Sitting at a bar once, the guy next to me asked, “Do you mind if I smoke?”
I replied, “Of course not. If you don’t mind the smell of my farts!”

I’d go buy a misting system and turn it on high. Maybe the mist will weigh down the smoke. Although with the water shortage, that wouldn’t be environmentally sound. They also sell outdoor fans.

TOB March 5, 2014 at 1:28 PM

For every complaint about smoking, I’ll bet you don’t give a crap on No Burn Days. I bet you have fires you feel your ENTITLED even though it has KNOWN health affects on others. That’s ok in your eyes.

You same people drive cars, better yet your the ones who eat outside sucking up car exhaust? Stop whining.. Co-exist or MOVE!. Small percentage think they own the world and life should be run through their eyes. So I kept this simple for your simplistic minds.

just a concordian March 5, 2014 at 1:29 PM


You are right. My comparison IS ridiculous. So I would like to invite you to come in every weekend from mid August until late November to clean the leaves from my back yard and pool. You will also bear the expenses as well, electricity for blower/mulcher, additional pool chemicals, and most importantly the time spent doing such chores. Oh don’t forget to bring a face mask. I hear that dry leaves dust is extremely damaging to one’s health.
In addition, you are more than welcome to come spend some time in my backyard after the leaves are cleaned. Bring your bathing suit. And earplugs. Because those screaming kids with their eardrum piercing voices will give you an immediate headache.
And please, feel free to hang out there quietly on a Sunday night, any day of the year, quietly reading a book while the other neighbors decide to have their Sunday night parties. While swimwear is optional in this instance, earplugs are not.

I have no place whatsoever to tell someone what to do in their own property. Just like they cannot tell me what to do in mine. There’s understanding, that’s very correct. But if they say no, it means exactly NO. So stop pestering people about what YOU think they can and cannot do in THEIR property. My land, my right. Good day!

Mr. Pink March 5, 2014 at 1:32 PM

His yard. His lungs. His rights. I understand the barking dog issues, loud noise, etc., but telling someone they can’t smoke on their own property is starting to push the boundaries of freedom.

And really, is second hand smoke from 20 yards away really that harmful? I know, I know, there is evidence that second-hand smoke is harmful, but I imagine that it more likely applies to people living with a smoker, bartenders and waitresses when smoking was still allowed in bars, etc. People are so f*#%ing quick to flip out when there’s a hint of cigarette smoke in the air from someone passing them on the sidewalk. Jesus, lighten up.

Nuttsie the Nutter March 5, 2014 at 1:36 PM

I would assume that you have all the proper permits and licences for your home based business that is operating in a area that is zoned residential.

you are March 5, 2014 at 1:39 PM

A yuppie. Suck it up and move on.

Is he section 8 or apt dweller? March 5, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Sounds like there are options cuz I doubt someone living on food stamps and other govt assistance could afford to own a home. Start complaining to the landlord and check the smoking ordinance if he is in a multi unit dwelling. Enough complaints about anything may get him evicted.

Hopefully his vice will catch up with him one way or another.

@ Mr. Pink and such March 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Yes smoke drifts from one yard to another. If I have a window open and the neighbor behind my next door neighbor ( yes even thst far away!) smokes, I will walk into the room with the window open (even a crack) and it will smell like someone is smoking inside thst room! And it lingers, even when I shut the window. That is how strong and powerful that nasty smoke is. Stop defending smokers. It is a nasty dirty habit with ZERO benefits and 100% horrific consequences. Why would anyone purposefully smoke a cigarette? Would you purposefully drink poison?

Closing Windows is unacceptable and Unhealthy March 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

I think there must be a solution. However, I am appalled that so many people say ‘close your windows.’ 1) It is unhealthy to stay indoors most of the time. 2) Even if indoors, one should have fresh air to breathe. I have some windows that are open nearly year round.

But it is true he’s on his property. Doing something to ‘get back’ doesn’t sound right. There must be some solution that will be acceptable though…just haven’t figured it out yet.

Cameron March 5, 2014 at 1:56 PM

If you already addressed the issue and he wasn’t receptive then I think you are out of luck. You will need to do stuff on your own property to control the smoke from heading your direction (fan, air purifiers). You think the smoke is bad, there is nothing more uncomfortable than an ongoing neighbor dispute!

At any rate, a few years back we found a home for sale we absolutely loved and the neighbors were chain smokers and every time we went to see the house the yard was full of cigarette smoke from the neighbor. We just decided it wasn’t the home for us. They had a right to do that in their own yard and that was basically that.

Or maybe offer to buy him the patch 😉

paranoid pablito March 5, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Consider taking up smoking yourself. Once you’re hooked, his smoke won’t bother you. Also, stop being an idiot.

Get a grip March 5, 2014 at 1:58 PM

For those complaining of the second hand smoke, you aren’t necessarily getting the second hand smoke. You are getting the SMELL. You can’t get cancer from smell.

klummer4 March 5, 2014 at 1:58 PM

my neighbor plays drums. and this neighborhood lives close, town homes and condos. why play drums?

The Mamba March 5, 2014 at 2:00 PM

I would personally worry about bigger things.

Incognito March 5, 2014 at 2:02 PM

I’m a non-smoker and, I find I am allergic to the smoke. My get a soar throat and it tightens/swells up. I just make a point not to be around it any more than I have to. Here in California, there is hardly any place one can smoke a cigarette with the exception of your own home. So it’s to the point of prohibiting someone from smoking in their own home and/or yard?

My only suggestion is to give it time… if he smokes as much as you say he does, he won’t be around long, and you won’t have to complain about it.

ConcordMike March 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM

What WOULD Jesus do?
Just curious…
: )

Incognito March 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

I meant “sore” throat – not “soar” throat! lol

Simple Small Claims Nuisance Lawsuit March 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

First Try Talking To Him.

And If That Goes As I Suspect Try Talking To The Home Owner.

This is what Small Claims Is For There Are Even Company’s That Will Fill Out The Paperwork For You It Cost About $160 For Everything!


unknown March 5, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Smoke is a toxin gas. If the guy next ran his car exhaust into your home what it the different? Just go into other room. Kill yourself but not everybody around you.

anonanonagain March 5, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Smoke from a smoker is annoying but it is his backyard. If he’s smoking 10 packs a day, the rate that he is going he will sooner than later be hooked up to a ventilator or in a hospital. How about tossing him an E-cigarette over the fence?? He gets the nicotine but you get none of the smoke….

RunDogRun March 5, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Ten packs a day is a serious addiction that
he probably won’t be able to break by
himself, even if he wanted to. That is an
incredible expense for someone unemployed.
I think you are within your rights asking him
to smoke out of an area where you can
smell it. If you can smell it, you are no
doubt inhaling second-hand cigarette
smoke and you have a right to clean air as
much as he insists on his right to smoke. He
doesn’t appear to be susceptible to pressure,
except maybe to smoke more. About all you
can do is feign uncontrollable coughing fits
whenever he’s out their smoking, and I do
mean fits … go for your own Academy Award.

people can smoke if they want outside March 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM

I dont smoke but people have the right to do whatever they want on their Property. Try this for a good idea Stop complaioning about what people do at their home that they pay for..

If you dont like it than close your windows.. I dont smoke but I hate complaining non smokers who complain even when people stand outside to smoke..

Sorry the world doesnt revolve around you and people have the right to smoke if they want.. Especially on their own property..

Enough Said

ClosetheWindow March 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Close the window. That’s what I do when my neighbor smokes outside my window.

Really, The Best Ideas So Far... March 5, 2014 at 2:49 PM

…are to get a fan that blows back over the fence or get him a smokeless ashtray.

I think he has a right to smoke on his property, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not terrible for the person who has to constantly smell it.

My neighbors burn a fire even when it’s 60 degrees out–even on non burn days. I haven’t reported them, but it’s very unpleasant to be outside and smell that nasty smoke.

Just because someone has a right to do something doesn’t mean they should. Some day you may need your neighbor to call 911 when the effects of that smoking hits.

Anon March 5, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Close your window – problem solved.

Blink March 5, 2014 at 2:57 PM

We moved to a home that has close neighbor contact or neighbor who lived behind us also smoke 24/7 and didn’t have a job…here’s what worked for us
Got outdoor fan from Lowe ‘s and turned on before first smoke about 8am
Got misters for patio perimeter in summer great way to water planters and create barrier for group smokers

Solution most satisfying was there eviction…that was on them

Medium and hi density housing should have polices that regulate intrusive

Courtesy and common sense have gone …spare the air please

miss ranchogirl March 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM

sorry for you. How irritating. I am surprised he declined to move his smoking corner, since you asked, he is not very neighborly. Since he has a right to smoke in his yard, I don’t think there is much you can do. Maybe about opening windows away from the stink?
Not sure I want to trade, my neighbor has a most irritating rooster. Miserable think yells all day long.

Vicky March 5, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Logical people—-Get along with your neighbors, and close the window.

Illogical people—–Tick him off, get a fan and blow the smoke back, file a lawsuit, move, etc.

You live there, not us. Take your pick from above.

oldman March 5, 2014 at 3:32 PM

I am more concerned about neighbors who flatulate.

Reality Slap March 5, 2014 at 3:48 PM

I have absolutely no problem with anyone who wants to suck on a burning tobacco or weed product, just keep your stinking smoke from the burning product on your own property and away from my airspace. I have a neighbor who not only smokes weed until there’s a small cloud of it in my side yard, he spends 90% of the time smoking it hacking his lungs out. He’s been approached by the landlord to smoke somewhere else. He didn’t listen and still smokes in the same spot. He’s a loser and stupid, one day he’ll pop a lung and then no more stupid.

Skunk Scent March 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM

is potent and legal, and it’s not strong enough to waft into your home. . . .

Lisa March 5, 2014 at 4:09 PM

I had something similar…when I first moved into my home and was planting flowers outside my neighbor came over and asked that I not plant jasmine or flowers that have a strong scent because she was allergic. I agreed…I’m a good neighbor. A few weeks later I kept smelling cigarette smoke but didn’t see anyone smoking outside. I finally saw her hanging out of her front window smoking (this window was right up against my living room window). I went over and asked her not to have her smoke outside. She replied that she didn’t want the smoke in the house to “smell it up.” I now have 8 jasmine bushes growing on my property between our houses. They will make a beautiful hedge this year.

Claytonian March 5, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Ok, so for all of the responders that say suck it up, it’s only cig smoke or closer your windows, or he’s in his yard and has a right to light up etc, please remember what you’ve said here and don’t complain when a company wants to locate a fast food restaurant upwind of your home/neighborhood and the smell of fried food or charring steak will be blowing your way…you can’t have it both ways. That’s known as hypocrisy.

just a concordian March 5, 2014 at 4:23 PM


You said:
“Just because someone has a right to do something doesn’t mean they should.”

May I point out the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

By your definition of exercising those rights, there are times when I shouldn’t live, shouldn’t be free and shouldn’t pursue happiness.

Dorothy March 5, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Not sure if this is a real situation or not – has the guy talked to his law enforcement people to find out if there is anything that can be done legally?

I'm Your Huckleberry March 5, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Too bad we just can’t stop manufacturing these unhealthy cancer sticks and then this problem would be solved…

anon neighbor March 5, 2014 at 4:41 PM

wow, regulate me to death. California is for whiners. People smoking kinda regulate themselves. throwing stink bombs and other things over the fence won’t work. If you throw something over my fence, I guarantee it will hit me and now there is going to be an assault charge you will be facing and a personal injury lawsuit.
But if you ever use a charcoal barbeque or burn in your fireplace you really can’t complain. Even if you use a gas grill toxins get in the air.
So go ahead toss something over the fence. Learn to be a little tolerant. You have tried to reason with them and it can get frustrating.
Be glad you don’t live in China where the smog is so bad you can’t breathe or see.
And don’t forget your wonderful neighbors who walk there dogs so they won’t crap in their yard just yours. now there is a topic

Suzanne March 5, 2014 at 4:43 PM

I understand my neighbor, I used to smoke five packs a day, but it got to the point where I couldn’t even stand my own smoke, even outdoors. So now I vaporize. That might be an alternative you could suggest to your neighbor.

Horse n around March 5, 2014 at 4:47 PM

I have a neighbor that smokes. And I swear every time I want to use the hot tub I have nasty cigarette smoke coming over into my yard. So to get her back, I went out and bought the loudest, most irritating ,miserable rooster I could find. That will teach her!

Clayanon March 5, 2014 at 5:09 PM

I would look on the positive side. You have a neighbor who is always around. Having people who live in their homes actually being out and seen about makes you less likely to be robbed. Criminals usually avoid homes with people in them. Also should anything happen, like a fire or you have a (gawd forbid) heart attack, he’s there. Most of my neighbors are never around. It looks like a ghost town except thankfully for the house with college-aged kids who play basketball in their garage driveway. Their noise could bother me but it doesn’t. I figure them being out in front of their house keeps the criminals from choosing our block.
It’s your choice, let it bother you or see the positives. If I were you I’d buy him some cigs as a peace offering. You might make a new friend.

Howard Beale March 5, 2014 at 5:16 PM

It’s funny how some people with those “Coexist” bumper stickers are the ones complaining about other people’s differences.

Almondgirl March 5, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Don’t tell me what I can or can not do in my own home or on my property.
I own the land and the house. If you have a problem come talk to me , nicely and respectfully, and I will listen and consider what you say. Maybe I will agree maybe I won’t but don’t ever tell me what to do on my property because you will not get a solution to YOUR problem.

Anon March 5, 2014 at 5:20 PM

this is close to home for me as my mom was a big smoker and in the winter theres no opening the windows to the car or house. My eyes would burn, my throat would burn then the post nasal drip or glop more like. My mom’s response, and angry ‘be quiet’ when I told her about it or asked her not to smoke now.

Your Mother is guilty of child abuse & very self centered– I would run away from home & hate her for my future medical problems

funny man March 5, 2014 at 5:24 PM

get over it fakey mcFaker …and GET OFF MY LAWN!

Mister Wister March 5, 2014 at 5:48 PM

There is no such thing as a “contact high”.

huh? March 5, 2014 at 5:58 PM

amazing how people feel about cigarettes…but never mention how the politicians have used the enormous tax collections from the habit….make it illegal…..what happens when he starts smoking weed..who gonna ask? your local representative that wants to make it legal …..wait ………for the tax dollars!!!!

Nimby March 5, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Mr Pink, pushing the boundaries of freedom? Really? The funny thing is the original post never mentioned ANYTHING about either individuals rights nor how cigarette smoke is or is-not effecting or causing cancer to them. All responses of “I have the right to do what I want on my property” are correct as long as it does not directly effect you neighbor/s. There’s a nuisance law in the state of California people, I encourage you to look it up. When you boil it down it simply comes to respect and understanding for one another. This is what’s missing in society today. Try talking again with mutual respect and reiterate why this is a problem for you, document it. If all else fails try mediation and possibly filing a nuisance complaint if all else fails.

Just_My_Two_Cents March 5, 2014 at 6:18 PM

I understand. One of my next door neighbors is a heavy smoker. I like to go out in my backyard and enjoy the clean air. I always go in when the neighbor is smoking. I feel like I should be able to enjoy the fresh air in my yard.

They are nice people but I wish they would stink up their house and not my yard.

Just me March 5, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Maybe you can move your home office to the other side of your house?

This reminds me of a similar story on
Claycord a few years ago. I think the city was Clayton and the old lady was complaining to some guy. If I remember right she had told him to smoke in the backyard. Lol.

@Just A Concordian #64 March 5, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Too funny. I said shouldn’t not can’t.

I wonder if you really are for the rights of everyone to pursue happiness. Of course, the law has already come down on the side of limiting free speech in some occasions, and clearly we all can’t just do what we want.

Try that on the cop when he stops your for speeding.

et-al March 5, 2014 at 6:55 PM

Even democrat controlled Senate wouldn’t let obama appoint his favorite cop killer defender, Debo P. Adegbile, to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
Sadly they don’t give a rats fanny who the dear leader appoints. They only care about public opinion and keeping their cushy over-compensated jobs.
And wouldn’t you know, Harry-the-crypt-keeper-Reid tried to blame republicans.
Just another day in the Capitol.

VikingPrincess March 5, 2014 at 6:56 PM

If your neighbor burned incense all day for religious beliefs on that side of the house you’d have more trouble complaining. Or perhaps if he burned good incense it would not brother you at all?

Best to communicate and find a win-win resolve. Let your neighbor know you’d be happy to reciprocate if he had issues with your lifestyle that is impeding on yours. Is it really as bad as you say? You two are able to communicate enough where he shares his finances with you. Maybe you are blowing it out of proportion because you see it daily?
Don’t know anyone who smokes half as much as described. At least he’s not having parties, screaming meemies throwing rocks, loud music, dogs barking all night or teenagers vandalizing.

Just trying to look at bright side. Talk to him.

et-al March 5, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Sorry folks wrong link.

The President March 5, 2014 at 6:57 PM

I will go around Congress and make a law that everyone that does agree with me or my beliefs will be punished for thinking they still have rights as described in the constitution of the United States.

anon March 5, 2014 at 7:42 PM

The Contra Costa County Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance includes the following protections in Multi-unit housing with 4 or more units in the unincorporated county:

Smoking (including the use of a hookah pipe, medical marijuana or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) such as an e-cigarette) is prohibited in the
As i already stated those that have an issue about this being a serious nuisance have not experienced an asthma attack or seen one. How does one close their windows when they are outside. Why should one have to close their own windows maybe to cool their house down, because others have no consideration for their neighbor. The reason one is smelling smoke is because of the particles that are burning of which are toxic. Duh. Just like plastic smells like plastic when it burns and gives off toxins so does the too many to mention chemicals in cigarettes including arsenic. There is a reason why some people will have a reaction major or minor. Because the body is trying to rid the harmful chemicals. Remember ‘everything I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten’.
Now let’s look at what is going on around the County.

following areas of multi-unit housing with 2 or more units (County Code Chapter 445-4.004):
Common indoor and outdoor areas;
Within 20 feet of doors, windows, air ducts and ventilation systems, except while walking from one destination to another;
On all balconies, patios, decks and in carports; and
In 100% of dwelling units of multi-unit housing residences (with 4 or more units) that receive a building permit after January 1, 2011.

anon March 5, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Contra Costa’s Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance

In 2006, the Contra Costa County Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance for all of the unincorporated areas of the county was adopted by the County Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors continues to strengthen this ordinance as new evidence demonstrates that additional protections are needed. This law was passed based on scientific studies from CAL-EPA (California Environmental Protection Agency, 2006) and the Surgeon General’s Reports (2006 and 2010) that clearly show that secondhand smoke is a health risk.

Brochure: A Guide to Contra Costa County’s Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance
– English | Spanish | Laotian | Chinese
Letter from the Director of Public Health
Ordinance: Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance Contra Costa County Code Chapter 445-5
Fact Sheet: Provisions of the Secondhand Smoke Protection Ordinance

Smoking (including the use of a hookah pipe, medical marijuana or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) such as an e-cigarette) is prohibited in the following outdoor areas:

All areas within 20 feet of the doors, operable windows, air ducts and ventilation systems of any enclosed worksite or enclosed places open to the public, except while passing on the way to another destination;
In outdoor dining areas at bars and restaurants (including outdoor dining areas at places of employment and in outdoor lounges);
On public trails and in public parks;
In service areas. (Service area means an area used to receive or wait for a service, enter a public place or make a transaction, including ATM’s, bank teller windows, ticket lines, bus stops and taxi stands);
In public event venues (such as stadiums, fairs, pavilions, farmers markets); and
On the campus of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and all county-operated healthcare clinics.

In Multi-Unit Housing Residences, smoking is prohibited:

In common indoor and outdoor areas of multi-unit housing residences of 4 or more unit; and
On all balconies, patios, decks and carports for existing and new multi-unit housing.
All areas within 20 feet of doors, windows, air ducts and ventilation systems of multi-unit housing residences, except while walking from one destination to another.
In 100% of all dwelling units of multi-unit housing residences that receive a building permit after January 1, 2011.

Landlord Responsibilities:
Under the law, the Owner and Manager of a multi-unit housing building must:

Post “No smoking” signs with letters of not less than one inch in height, or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a burning cigarette in a red circle with a red bar across it). The sign must be visibly posted in every building or other place where smoking is prohibited by law;
Not allow ashtrays or other receptacles for disposing of smoking material where smoking is prohibited; and
Not knowingly allow smoking in smoking prohibited areas.
Comply with lease/rental agreement requirements outlined in the next section.

Under the law, the Owner and Manager of a multi-unit housing building must:

Maintain and keep on file at the premises: (1) a list of all designated nonsmoking units at the residence; (2) a floor plan of the residence that identifies the location of all designated non-smoking units, any units where smoking is permitted and any designated outdoor smoking areas; and
With every new lease or rental agreement for the occupancy of a unit in a multi-unit residence, include:
a copy of the list;
a copy of the floor plan;
information indicating whether a policy for handling smoking complaints is in effect at the multi-unit residence, and if so, the terms of the policy; and
a clause stating it is a material breach of the lease to smoke in a non-smoking unit or in any indoor or outdoor common area where smoking is prohibited.*

Landlords may designate a common outdoor area of a multi-unit housing residence as a smoking area. For details contact Tobacco Prevention Project at 888-877-4202.
*The California Apartment Association’s form 34.0 may be used.

Smoking is also prohibited:

In any indoor workplace or indoor area open to the public, including tobacco shops, owner or volunteer operated businesses and hotel lobbies.

Smoking is permitted:

In any location within the county unless otherwise prohibited by local, state or federal law; and
In up to 20 percent of guests room in any hotel, unless the hotel has designated the entire hotel smoke-free.

Compliance Information

In every building or other place where smoking is prohibited by law, the owner, operator or manager must:

Post “No smoking” signs with letters of not less than one inch in height, or the use of the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a burning cigarette in a red circle with a red bar across it), must be visibly posted in every building or other place where smoking is regulated by the owner, operator, manager.
Not allow ashtrays or other receptacles for disposing of smoking material where smoking is prohibited.
Not knowingly allow smoking in smoking prohibited areas. The owner, operator or manager must request that the person stop smoking and if the person fails to stop, ask them to leave the premises.

Posting Signage Is Required By The Law

Research shows that 80% of all smokers would like to quit and that smoke-free public places provide a more supportive environment. Information about cessation programs (to quit smoking) are available by calling the California Smoker’s Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS or visit
No Smoking. Report violations to 888-877-4202.

Below are links to Contra Costa County Secondhand Smoke Protection Ordinance Signs for business owners, landlords and the general public to download:

“No smoking” sign (11″ X 8.5″)
“No smoking” sign (7″ X 5″)
“No fumar” sign (11″ X 8.5″)
“No smoking within 20 feet” sign (11″ X 8.5″)
“No smoking within 20 feet” sign (5″ X 7″)
“No Smoking within 20 feet” – Spanish sign (11″ X 8.5″)
“No Smoking within 20 feet” – Spanish sign (5″ X 7″)
“No Smoking” sign (expanded language) (11″ X 8.5″)
“No smoking” sign (expanded language) (7″ X 5″)

While supplies last, signage is available through the Tobacco Prevention Project.

If you are concerned about tobacco influences in your community including drifting smoke in outdoor areas, Multi-unit housing and workplaces or tobacco sales to minors, call 925-313-6214 or email

Atticus Thraxx March 5, 2014 at 7:51 PM

I get how cigarettes are intrusive. But your an adult, what are you asking these knuckleheads for? Go put on your big boy pants and handle your neighbor. Damn.

anon March 5, 2014 at 7:53 PM

“Home is where you should have the right to breathe clean air,” said Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, who introduced the legislation, AB746

People living in townhouses, condominiums and other attached units would be prohibited from smoking indoors under a ban proposed by a state lawmaker – the most sweeping antismoking legislative proposal in the country.

Well.. March 5, 2014 at 8:02 PM

I have a neighbor who tries to tell me what to do in my own home. Until you are paying the mortgage, you have no right to tell someone what to do.

To the original poster- You need to stop. Are you willing to let that neighbor dictate to you what you can do? What if he decided that your house was not zoned for business? If you are going to force him to stop smoking on his property, are you willing to give up your home based business and move it to an office downtown? What are you willing to do for him if stops smoking on the side yard for you? It has to be a give and take.

anon March 5, 2014 at 8:07 PM

There is no constitutional right to smoke.
Claims to the contrary have no legal basis.
The U.S.
and California constitutions guarantee certain
fundamental rights and protect certain classes of
persons from all but the most compelling government regulation.
However, no court has ever
recognized smoking as a protected fundamental right nor has any court ever found smokers to be
a protected class.
To the contrary, every court that has considered the issue has declared that no
fundamental “right to smoke” exists.
So long as a smoking regulation is rationally related to a
legitimate government objective such as protecting public health or the envir
onment, the
regulation will be upheld as constitutional.

anon March 5, 2014 at 8:11 PM
working to fight the effects of secondhand smoke


You may also want to contact a local elected official about your problem, and suggest the City consider passing a law to protect people living in multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke. As a result of citizens like you, a number of communities have passed local laws restricting smoking in apartments and condos. If you would like more information about this option, contact us and we can put you in touch with your local community coalition working on tobacco control issues.

Whatever course of action you take, please consider your health. If that means moving to get away from the secondhand smoke, one source for finding a smokefree apartment is

We wish you luck with this difficult situation.

anon March 5, 2014 at 8:14 PM

I live in a single-family home and my neighbor’s smoke is entering my property. What can I do?
I live in a single-family home and my neighbor’s smoke is entering my property. What can I do?
Connect With us

Get the latest news, join discussions on public health issues, show us change in your community, or make a donation.
I live in a single-family home and my neighbor’s smoke is entering my property. What can I do?

You could pursue any or all the three possible strategies outlined below. (Note that this information is specific to people living in a single-family home in California. If you live in an apartment or a condominium and are affected by drifting secondhand smoke, see separate questions regarding these situations.)

Create a voluntary agreement with your smoking neighbor to limit where he or she smokes;
Encourage your Homeowners’ Association (HOA) to adopt a smokefree policy (if there is one); and/or
File a lawsuit against the HOA (if there is one) and/or your smoking neighbor based on theories such as nuisance, breach of contract, or trespass.


One option is for you to try and reach a voluntary agreement with your smoking neighbor. The neighbor could, for example, agree to limit where he smokes or the times when he smokes. Such an agreement is not legally binding. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) has a publication called “The Smoker Next Door: Handling Unwanted Tobacco Smoke in Apartments and Condominiums,” which can be especially useful for pursuing a voluntary agreement, even though it is designed for residents of multi-unit housing.

Although you and your neighbor could work out an agreement on your own, there are mediation and dispute resolution programs that can assist people with disputes like this.

Many single-family houses are located in planned developments that are controlled by an HOA. The HOA has the legal ability to prohibit smoking in outdoor areas of the neighborhood. For details on how an HOA could adopt such a policy, see our publication “How to Make a Condo Complex Smokefree.” (Although it is designed for condominiums, it also applies to other types of common interest developments, such as planned subdivisions.)

If your home is not governed by an HOA, you would not be able to pursue this option.

Another option is to bring a lawsuit against the HOA and/or the neighbor. Our publication “Options for Condo Owners Suffering from Drifting Secondhand Smoke” provides information about this option. (Although it is designed for condominiums, it also applies to other types of common interest developments, such as neighborhoods.) We do not provide direct legal services to clients, so we would not be able to represent you in a lawsuit.

If you do not have an HOA, you would only be able to sue your neighbor.

Another avenue you might want to pursue is filing a lawsuit in small claims court. In this case, you would represent yourself and not have to hire an attorney. The California Department of Consumer Affairs developed a helpful handbook, “The Dos and Don’ts of Using the Small Claims Court,” to answer questions about the process of resolving a dispute in small claims court.

We wish you luck with this difficult situation.

anon March 5, 2014 at 8:19 PM

yup, those incense burners are taking over the neighborhood. This is such an issue all over the nation/world. With all the disease associated with incense burning there needs to be some educating going on. And the children taking up incense burning….

anon March 5, 2014 at 8:40 PM

a little more on surstromming you might resort to this option since the guy is inconsiderate. some people need help in becoming empathetic. this could make the point

Jake Jama March 5, 2014 at 9:09 PM

I know my neighbor is not fond of my backyard smoking, they leave the windows open when below freezing outside. I did not want to smoke in the front yard where it is closer to where children play. They slam windows..etc. I was really concerned for a solution, until I noticed the reefer they smoke on their balcony when they have drizzunk night parties. I figure if they smoke ganja outside they have no right to complain about me. They also like to shoot out camper shell windows with a BB gun, both mine and the adjoining neighbor’s. They have some problem with him, also.

Grumpy Old Man March 5, 2014 at 9:13 PM

What is one to do when this inconsiderate smoker says “I am moving to Moose Turd, Montana and I am renting my house to the first Section 8 person that makes and offer”?…something to think about.

NiceGuy March 5, 2014 at 9:35 PM

The Section 8 person would probably be less of an A$$hole.

VikingPrincess March 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

You seem to be pushing the anti smoke thing. Real obvious. If the poster is not able to Google what you just Googled up then he can bugger off and the post is a “to prove some point” trap again. This is the information age, I have no interest in enabling… a lot of work for a so called other person.

I am thinking he’s looking for an opinion. I have seen some good points here. The attacking attitude of some anti smokers (usually envious previous smokers) gets old. Smokers are not evil. Get mad at the cigarette companies for Odin’s sake.

Forget the incense comment. How about pot. …

Either way, I agree with the posters that encourage you to close your window or communicate. The housing spacing sounds very tight and he knew that when he moved there.

Thors Hammer has come down! Grow a set and fix it or shut up.

Claude Rains March 6, 2014 at 12:42 AM

Great Screaming Zotz! Remember when we’d all drive around in finned two-ton steel sculptures unequipped with seat belts or airbags? Did you know cars back then had “wind-wings” to allow ventilation of cigarette smoke & ash? That was when Americans were slamming down 2-3 packs of Camels (“4 out of 5 Doctors recommend Camels to their patients who do smoke”) whilst swilling martinis (the upper-class) or a beer or 6 (the rest of us) and while living downrange of nuclear atmospheric testing. And all after working REALLY hard during a Great Depression or maybe fighting a rather largish War, and hoping they or their kids didn’t get polio next week at the neighborhood pool. Gosh, it’s amazing any of them lived past 40, or any of us poor little ones made it out of grade school, what with mom telling us to get out of the house and go play in the fallout and the smog that you could cut with a knife.

Jeebus on a pogo stick, lady, suck it up, go get a hobby at the senior center, maybe go volunteer, and count your blessings.

MO March 6, 2014 at 7:14 AM

The fault for all of this begins back in the 50s when so many subdivisions were built. How did they get permission to put the houses so close together? That needs to be remedied, and every other home, now…needs to be torn down, to eliminate crowding and the passing of germs, smoke and/or noise.
I cannot understand who would buy a house that is so close to another.
I grew up on Esperanza in Holbrook Heights on the hill…corner of Jerilyn…so there was just the house along side and the one in the back…and as a kid, I thought everyone needed to draw their draperies because it was impossible to be outside and not accidentally see what was going on in the house, let alone what was going on outside.
The best answer to hating the neighbor’s habits is to sell your house, and find a house with some acreage around it, and solve your own problems.
Let the smoker smoke and kill himself, and you can enjoy peace and quiet and cleaner air. This is just so simple….if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Support our cops! March 6, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Start smoking, then you will enjoy the stench. Buy him a purifier and tell him its for his garage i.e. his new smoking spot! Oh sorry thats his relaxation spot? Some of these ideas posted aren’t bad as far as making that a spot where he would not enjoy relaxing. Opera? Loud barking dog? Take his enjoyment away from that spot. When I used to smoke(2 years without a ciggy 🙂 I would walk far away out to the street but i’m also a nice guy who understood that a non smoker would hate to get their house smoked out or go to my garage… Garage is nice because its inside, not to hot or cold and away from rain, but had to put a purifier in there because it would hot box.

Mr. Pink March 6, 2014 at 10:49 AM

@Nimby – regardless of the original post, my response is aimed at all those who feel they have the right to tell another what they can and cannot do on their own property. So yes, if we start telling people that they cannot do something that, so far as I know is still legal, annoying though it may be, on their own property, that sure sounds like it’s pushing the boundaries of freedom to me. But then maybe I’m confused. Or you are.

Nom de Plume March 6, 2014 at 2:39 PM

OMG, I’m so sorry. Not sure there is a solution for this if he is refuses to make any compromises and move to another area of the yard. I lived in a condo and didn’t realize until I moved in that smoke could permeate the unit. It wasn’t that bad when only one neighbor smoked, but eventually all of them did. That neighbor and I worked out a compromise, but the others didn’t care. It made the place uninhabitable so eventually I was forced to move. That was very sad as I loved it otherwise and the new no smoking regulations would have helped.

As for your situation, I’m not sure what you can do if the neighbor is such an ass. Just hope he dies early. Yes, I said it and have no sympathy for smokers after being subjected to them all my life and suffering from the health consequences as a result. Most of them don’t care how much they affect others. You shouldn’t have to live with your windows close and I know from experience the smoke gets through anyway.

Maya Piñon March 6, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Who cares?

frambley1 March 6, 2014 at 4:57 PM

@anon #16. Apparently you have no idea what you are talking about. It is a simple fact. You can verify it on your own if you have any interest in facts. California’s unemployment insurance lasts for 26 weeks. After 26 weeks it ends. In other words, you get 26 weeks worth of payments, then no more.

Nimby March 7, 2014 at 10:20 PM

@Pink – The theme of the original post was how to handle a bad situation with a neighbor NOT telling them what to do on their own property. There are plenty of legal things that you can do on your own property such as playing loud music. There is no noise ordinance in the City of Concord. However the thing you obviously don’t get is; once it effects your neighbor such as me, I have a right to ask/tell you to turn it down. If you continue to be “annoying” on a daily basis and after I have asked nicely repeatedly then guess what? I’m gonna see you in court. Enjoying your freedom doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. Be respectful, it’s mutual! Still confused?

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