Next Door Neighbour Smokes - What to Do about Second Hand Smoke?

I'm in a bit of a bind..

We're both owners of our own free standing homes. Old mate and his housemate sit out on their porch after a hard day's work, have a beer with their dog, then smoke for about 4-5 hours into the night. They tend not to go outside because hey, the porch is their common area and it's a nice setup which is raised a bit, overlooks a park and it's fairly tranquil. I can't ask them to smoke elsewhere because the only place they can go is their backyard or inside their house. In any event, it's their own free will and its their home. He's an otherwise great neighbour. The problem I have is that my place is downwind of his, so I inevitably get all of that second hand smoke smell in most of my house. I'm a non-smoker and all I can feel in my nostrils, is the acrid feel of the smoke. It's getting into bedroom, living room, study, kitchen and guest room.

If you've encountered a similar situation, what did you do that was effective in removing the second hand smoke smell?

Have other people tried baking soda, more activated charcoal, scented candles etc?

Keen to know what worked.



    • +7

      Same happened to me many years back. Neighbour burnt wood most days, we lived downwind. At the time I had a small child with another on the way. House filled with smoke & laundry stank of smoke. Spoke to them, asked them to refrain, or at least not light it until late in the day. They didn’t listen or care.
      Went to local council, went to city council (Perth).
      Went to EPA.
      Got nowhere.
      Moved out in the end after 18 months of being smoked.
      Australia might be one of the few “civilised” countries left where you can still burn wood in urban areas. Most countries have laws against it in residential areas now

      • +4

        Reminds me of a neighbour I had with an old car (really old, 1940s), where he would work on it and run it, idling, for hours at a time in the driveway. No matter what I did, my place would fill up with exhaust (all pre emissions device era). I actually felt nauseated and had to leave on multiple occasions. I did exactly as you mentioned, called every authority possible, they would never do anything because the vehicle wasn't on the kerb, council property or the street itself.

        Eventually the neighbour sold the vehicle and that was the end of it. I was really surprised he never died from carbon monoxide inhalation or something.

    • -3

      A fireplace in your home is one of the most beautiful things, don’t understand people that don’t like it

      • +1

        You should move to Armidale if you like it so much - maybe you live there already?

        • -2

          I’ve spent time in many cold places and having a wood heater or fireplace adds character to you life and smell, sound and glow is beautiful.

  • +4

    Just buy an air purifier. Some great deals on the Xiaomi 3H are bound to drop by soon.

    • +1

      Got one for the living room. It works fairly well. I'm at my in-laws place today and I swear I still have the second hand smoke in my lungs.

      My wife, who is a casual smoker, has no idea what I am talking about.

      • +1

        My wife, who is a casual smoker

        There is your problem right there.

        I had a co-worker who would go out for a ciggie every 3 - 4 hours, and the guy would absolutely reek of the filth every time he came back to his desk, even within a well air-conditioned office.

        • -1

          She smokes out in the garage before coming back into the house. I am also able to discern that it's not anything coming from her.

        • +1

          I bet he chews some chewing gum afterwards too, thinking it negates the smoke on his breath and clothes.

  • +11

    You can't just ask? I know it's hard, but if he is a good bloke, he might understand. You might even suggest some ideas to assist with the issue (maybe buy them a fan they can run whilst they smoke to move the air around, or (not serious - this is a joke) buy them some nicer smelling liquids and encourage vaping! 😂

    Confrontation sucks, but it's also good for us. When you have justification they won't change/care, then you can plan bigger fences, etc. If you approach him as an equal person and relay your problem, it might work in your favour. Cook some cookies for them to butter then up! If they act like idiots, then you have your justification they suck, don't care and you can do more stuff as/of required The confrontation might make you guys have a better friendship, too!

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    • totally agree, instead of being passive aggressive, be confronting, it works out better for everyone in the long run..

      • +1

        'instead of being passive aggressive, be confronting'

        I would suggest instead of confronting, be assertive

        start with friendly - how's it going mate, then be silent and listen for as long as they want to talk

        this will leave them thinking you're a great person/listener/highly intelligent for giving them the time ot day

        but also leave them sub-consciously feeling they owe you something in return

        after they've released the load off their mind, quietly mention to problem of cigarette smoke smell affecting your home

        at which point if they're nice they'll probably jump at the chance to say 'gee sorry mate I didn't realise - I'll do something else instead'

        if they don't offer like that, ask gently if there is somewhere else they could smoke

        perhaps note first prevailing winds - in Sydney summer/morning breezes typically come from the NE, winter/afternoon breezes more likely from the SE, i.e. reverse direction

        so if this happens, they might accept an idea to smoke when the wind is blowing the other way ?

        the legal word is nuisance - subject to suing someone for damages - that's unlikely to be a happy course of action, but by simply mentioning the legal word if might garner more of their attention, e.g. ''the legal word is Nuisance'

        • @goldiep @Hangryuman

          I have no issues with tough conversations, I only have issues with unproductive conversations.

          I've had a look at how the air flows where I live. If the guy smokes anywhere in the front of his house, he's going to affect my house.

          That's just how the airflow works here between his block and my block.
          If he takes the ciggies to the back of his house, it's likely I won't be affected, but his own quality of life is greatly decreased.
          He will no longer have a a great view of the park from the comfort of his raised porch and couch, there is no back deck at the back of his place, it is just going to be a couple of chairs in the back of his garden. The lifestyle change I would be asking of my neighbour feels way too onerous. Hell, if someone asked me to do the same, I'd just politely say no.

          The neighbour is pretty agreeable, but I think this would just be one of those.. 'hold up what mate you're joking' requests.

          I'd also never waste money on a lawyer, to write a worded letter saying to someone that they are a nuisance. You can pay 500 for a letter to say that, but if you want to try your hand at getting a judgment in your favour, it's a significant money sink with no gaurantee of success. I'd have better chances of reducing any carryover smoke, with a decent fence, smoke absorbing plants, fans, activated charcoal or whatever else.

  • +2

    Does anyone know whether it's legal for me to dump nitrogen oxide and hydrogen cyanide gas mixture in public??

  • If it is just the smell that is bothering you, get an oil burner and use an essential oil that neutralises the smell

  • +4

    You have to go and confront them.

    Nothing will be gained by hiding in your house and avoiding contact.

    They have the right to smoke, you have the right to enjoy your environment in peace, so a compromise is needed

  • +1

    I would use a air purifier as well. Helps not only with smoke, but allergens, cooking smells, dust etc etc.

  • +6

    Recruit some lads/chavs to regularly hassle him for a smoke from the street and play bad music in the park

  • Ducted air con unit, create positive pressure in whole house… just use fans function .

    Or tell him your concerns and see how good a neighbour he his

  • +20

    Smokers are the most selfish, weak willed people ever.

    • Pity they get covered by Medicare for lung cancer and feet removal later in life.

      • +3

        they pay their fair share of tax, cigarettes are nearly 90% tax, you would be surprised that they may actually be paying for your healthcare

        • +8

          Fair point, only problem is the fag suckers cost the healthcare system an estimated $138 billion in 2019 and cancer stick tax collection is around one twentieth of that.

          To me they rank just above the antivaxers.

          • @IanC: $138bn seems like a lot, I cant see that being accurate

            • @lonix: Apologies. was 137 Million.. still 20 times more than the revenue collected.

          • @IanC: How many billions of dollars has the government wasted on a vaccine that only lasts 6 months at best?

            Are they going to continue to foot the bill for a booster every 6 months?

    • -1

      This was so narrow minded and harsh that I instantly thought you were joking… I'm still not sure. Smokers are people. people that are overweight/or unhealthy & have bad health through their own actions, are people. People that are addicted to coffee, are people. We're all just humans.

      • +2

        Which one of those encroaches on another persons personal space, though?>

        • +1

          Well If I was on a flight, the overweight person…

          …but the smokers everywhere else.

  • +4

    Free second hand smoke.. Sounds like a bargain to me

  • +3

    buy them a fan, talk to them and tell them its blowing in your house and if they can use the fan down wind to blow it a bit away to dissipate a bit will help.

    So it will be:

    You need something decent, 50cm + and over 150w (on low) thats on a pedestal. The 70cm + would be better but will cost way over $100 and will pull 250w and are noisy "industrial" fans

    I would also recommend having a chat with them about it over then fence while they are all there with lit ciggys and also mention that you are an ex smoker (even if youre not)

    If that doesnt work, couple of bags of blood and bone will

  • -2

    Vaping doesn't bother others, so that is the best option.

    • It bothers my FIL, but hes the only old prick that said anything but hes a bit anal retentive

  • -2

    Your neighbour is infringing on your right to the quiet enjoyment of your home in a significant way so if all else fails you do have the legal route.

  • -2

    It’s obviously getting right up your nose for you to post so, just move …….

  • I know… it can waft into your house… you feel you can't even have a window open… you lay in bed and it is as if they are next to you smoking… you can't say much these days… people will just up the anti… and as you said… there is grog involved.

    Just move to the other side of the house

  • +4

    All these people here suggesting to close a window as Australia is a free country. Hey yes it is, you are free to whirl your arms around all day long up until they touch the tip of my nose. Then your freedom ends. Your freedom should not impact on mine. That is what a free country is all about.

    If you never smoked it may be bothersome. But if you are an ex-smoke it would be like an acid enema. What your neighbour should be doing is buying a DC fan and turning it on to ensure the smoke is redirected back at them. Since they are not doing and you want to stay cool with them I would suggest to the OP to take up a hobby that would be equally annoying to encourage old neighbour to bring up the subject and ask you to be considerate. Then it is an easy conversation of sure neighbour BUT….

    It worked for me but a different scenario were my neighbour was really into gel gun blasters. His aim was so bad all I heard all day is ping ping pop pop. So I took up the hobby of outdoor Durian eating. Not only did I develop a taste for it, but it prompted old boy lean over the fence and ask if I could eat indoors as the smell was getting to him. Now I no longer eat the sumo wrestler jock strap fruit and the sounds of gel blasters are also gone.

    • +1

      This exactly, these "free country" types also better defend my right to spray liquid-ass in the air around them unless they're hypocrites

      Smoking around non-smokers is an antisocial behaviour

    • +1

      So I took up the hobby of outdoor Durian eating.

      TY for the giggle!

  • +4

    Have you considered taking up smoking?

  • -1

    Great decision last week in QLD.

  • Permanently down wind? How's that work?

    • Heard of prevailing wind?

  • -2

    I once had a neighbour complain about my wood fire (only heat source in the house). I asked if they would get me a ducted unit installed at their expense, they declined never heard anything else about it.

  • Ozone machine for the rooms.

    Carbon monoxide machine aimed at your neighbor. They will wind down for the night quicker.

  • +3

    You sound like a nice person. It's a horrible situation I'm in the same boat living in apartments. I could technically enforce a smoke drift bylaw but my personal opinion is they're on their own balcony and have F all alternative. I'm not really comfortable dictating what people do in their own premises.

    In my experience a level of tolerance is required and shutting windows. Air freshener and fans.

    Can't wait until we wake up as a society and ditch tobacco for good.

  • Think of all the microparticles that cars emit as you breathe and walk down the street.

  • are they smoking tobacco, or something else?

  • -2

    Move house

  • Pay him to smoke in his backyard or inside instead. Offer to pay for a couch or TV or something

  • As an ex-smoker I feel for you, the smell is really bad for me now, whenever I smell it I basically gag. Having been a smoker I can tell you though that most smokers want to quit but just have difficulty with it.

    You should just tell them that it bothers you and ask them to smoke on the opposite side of their house furtherest from yours, most likely they will. If they say thats a "you" problem, then it's a "you" problem unfortunately, unless you want to go down the legal or petty avenues. I think both are terrible options but if I was going to go down the petty road I would just play death metal towards their house and get a set of noise cancelling headphones every time you smell cigarette smoke (not so loud as to annoy your other neighbours, but loud enough to annoy them).

    When I was a smoker the only place I had to smoke was outside my unit next to my neighbours bedroom windows and he would slam the windows shut, I just moved as far away as I could as to not piss him off, no one wins when stuff like that escalates.

    Also I don't know what kind of future everyone else wants to live in, but the government is the last group of people you should trust with enforcing human behaviour. First it will be easy groups like smokers getting targetted and sooner or later we'll all be taking mandatory classes on how to "correctly think".

    • or later we'll all be taking mandatory classes on how to "correctly think".

      Too late lol

  • -3

    What a bind you find yourself in, I think you should alert the media, start a court case, apply for government assistance, form a protest movement and get back to us here daily for updates on your progress.

  • I have a similar issue where my back neighbour smokes heavily (I don't know my smoking drugs but it's not the standard cigarette; it's something a lot heavier) and they also have their cooking exhaust fan pumping directly into our house (instead of the roof). I'm asthmatic and have a two year old so the only thing I can do it lock all windows and doors along with taking in laundry but luckily my house doesn't take in the pollutants. It's annoying to live near them though.

    • ask a friend to help identify the smell - if it's marijuana, a call to the police might see them change their behaviour quick smart !

  • -1

    Cultivate your lung growths elsewhere, KUUUNTT

  • Smoke is a pain in the arse. Annoying that e-cigarettes are hard to get for the average joe. Thought every teenager has one 😂. I hate the stuff. E-cigs should be mandatory in urban environments, get rid of the others

  • buy a blueair air purifier with smoke filter.
    you can use it or gift it to your neighbour and ask him to have it turned on outside where they smoke so it doesnt come down to you.
    you are welcome to buy my 2nd hand one from me, i bought it when i had newborns but dont use it anymore.

    they work really well

  • Think about an air filtration device like xiaomi with a hepa filter. I got one so that if anybody get covid i can shut out the room with this at entrance capturing all of the particulates. I am sure that will work. You can google youtube and see it in action in smoke filled room .

  • Good news! Soulds like your house has a draught problem and your neighbour has smoked it out for you (geddit?!). Get it fixed and it'll save on heating/cooling and stop the bulk of the smell!

  • +1

    Get a meat smoker and set it up near the fence. When he complains about the smoke tell him you'll stop smoking when he stops smoking.

  • +1

    Go to Chinatown and buy a few of this, light them up when your neighbour started smoking. If he started complaining just tell him that you are a devoted Buddhist.

  • Get a ducted evaporative cooler installed. Turn it on and open the windows just a bit.

  • close all your windows permanently. no other way:(

  • +2

    Go to a side of your house not exposed. Install an intake fan with a HEPA filter attached. Run your house with positive pressure. Solved.

    Dont need to be precise unless you use aircon. If you do, too much will drive your aircon costs through the roof. A very slight positive pressure will do the job.

    I bodged a solution like this when I lived in a unit. Had 2 smokers on other balconies making the place unlivable. Grabbed a box fan & sealed it into a window on the opposite side of the building. I stuck a HEPA filter on the fan for a little extra filtration. Worked great.

  • Very similar situation. We're good friend with our neighbours so mentioning the second hand smoke is hard. Once we start to smell their smoke come through, we close the window it travels through and open the ones in the other side of the house. Doing this doesn't bother us.

  • +1

    OP, I go through the same crap but not as bad as you. Smoking idiot neighbours who are loud and play loud TV as well and have a loud dog.

    Unfortunately, they are a renter so it allows them to live in a neighbourbood that they wouldn't be able to afford to buy in.

    These people are just the worst. Just small brain idiots, more likely to be associated with low economic status.

    And sadly, unlucky people like us who live next to smokers are in a small minority because the smoking rates have really reduced in Australia.

    "Who was smoking in Australia in 2020-21?
    One in ten adults were current daily smokers (10.7% or 2.1 million adults)"

  • -3

    Bring a few beers and have a chat with him and bring it up casually. Honestly he'll probably feel bad knowing they're affecting you with the smoke - most smokers are quite conscious of others being uncomfortable being exposed to second hand smoke. Might not stop it completely but they might do it somewhere else or time it certain hours of the day

    • +1

      Might be concious about it, but clearly don't care

  • +1

    The only solution is to move house.

  • Plant some bamboo trees on the fence line. They grow extremely high and will help filter the smoke.

Login or Join to leave a comment