What's Next - House Police?

This is a guest commentary by Nathan Jones, a well spoken young fellow I met via my wife, Deb. I've asked more than once if he'd be willing to post something for Weekend Pundit and here's his first offering (with more to follow, I hope).


I came across this seemingly stupid story out of Dallas, TX today. It chronicles the tale of a mother and daughter who had the misfortune of living next to a smoker.

In an age when smoking has been outlawed in most public places – government buildings, bars and pool halls – a person's home is one of the few places you can puff in peace.

Cary Daniel and her mother Chris Daniel no longer live in the townhome, and said they need to wear respirators and goggles when they return to the townhome to retrieve their belongings.

A Dallas woman has filed a lawsuit seeking six figures from a former neighbor and landlord for damage she says was caused by cigarette smoke wafting through adjoining walls of her high-end townhome

I personally believe that, based on what I have read in this story, their argument is completely ridiculous.

First and foremost, the amount of smoke that would need to pour out of their neighbor’s apartment to actually affect their apartment would be impressive. Even a “pack a day” smoker would lack the output to cause harm to their neighbor's dwelling. Sure, there may have been the familiar “cigarette smell” in their apartment, but that is far from a health risk. Nuisance, absolutely. I personally hate the smell of cigarettes. However, there is a huge gap between nuisance and health endangerment. If we could sue over nuisance, Kanye West would have been bankrupt a long time ago.

Secondly, I believe that this is merely a publicity stunt on their part, and maybe some long-shot hopes at getting some easy cash. For the benefit of this argument (and believe me, this is quite a stretch), let’s say the smoke did cause a hazard. Would it not be the responsibility of the landlord alone? There is no need to sue the smoker, as I could assure them she (a middle aged lady named Rebecca) took far more damage from said smoke than they shall ever encounter. It was not as if she was intentionally trying to harm them by blowing smoke in their house. It is also the landlord's responsibility to make sure the houses are adequate to live in, and I would think that one of the larger “adequacies” required would be sufficient separation of me from my neighbor.

In summary, I believe this article to be important because it is one of the most blatant signs I have come across recently that shows the lack of personal action. People today do not wish to act, but rather they wish to have the government do it for them. The story states that this mother-daughter duo suffered a year of “stinging eyes, sinus pains”, etc. My question to them is why stay?

Clearly if things are that bad then moving out is the way to go, not filing a lawsuit. A suit would be necessary if this was a public living space, but it's not. These were decent mid- to high-end apartments. I do hope the courts throw this case out, as this could set a scary precedent for a police state. Clearly, one is not allowed to break the law in one’s own home, but who is to decide what is “damaging” to one's neighbors? Today, smoking may be considered damaging. If the courts uphold this theory, then who is to say that tomorrow, my religious paraphernalia may be considered “damaging” to another. Let us hope the courts exercise wisdom and tell these two ladies we’re very sorry they chose to live in those conditions for a year, but in the end, it’s as much the smoker’s choice to smoke as it was their choice to live there.

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