Our Smoking Neighbor


One evening while Sebastian was sleeping in the bedroom, Mary went in and smelled smoke. She freaked out. She was so mad. She told me we had to move immediately. This is because she had read this pamphlet (from the CDC) about secondhand smoke that stated:

No amount of secondhand smoke is safe. Even when you can’t smell it, cigarette smoke can still harm your child.

Opening a window or using a fan does not protect children.

I had recently installed a window fan to intake fresh air from the outside, so unfortunately, it also started intaking the cigarette smoke from our smoking neighbor (who smokes once a week or so). She was hopping mad and demanded we move immediately. So I reversed the fan flow (to exhaust) and emailed our pediatrician.

The pediatrician basically said: so long as you are closing windows, using fans to blow in fresh air, and staying away from neighbors who smoke, it’s fine.

This was a much more moderate stance than the CDC pamphlet, which is pretty hardline. Since Mary trusts our pediatrician, I think I have successfully deferred moving from our awesome rent-controlled apartment for another half year. Whew.

My takeaways:

  1. Most window fans can either intake our exhaust. Use exhaust for where the baby is sleeping to not bring in outside smoke.
  2. If the smoking source is occasional (once a week in our case), remote (not in our apartment, somewhere in our complex), and we can shut the window / blow air out, it’s fine.

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