A Smoke Free World…for Illinois Condos

by Chicago Agent

Legislation for smoking bans in condos would codify what has been years in the making.

When the Smoke Free Illinois Act took effect Jan. 1, 2008, public places and places of employment throughout the state were required to be smoke-free inside and within 15 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open and ventilation intakes.

The act, though, excluded private residences, and has led to a murky gray area involving regulations on where homeowners can smoke and when. That ambiguity is front and center in a new proposed law that would allow condominium associations throughout Illinois to ban smoking in their buildings.

Proposed by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, the law would codify the smoking ban in Illinois’ Condominium Property Act. Previously, such a power was only available to condo associations through bylaws.

In a statement addressing her proposition, Feigenholtz said the ban would address the public health concerns involving smoking.

“Secondhand smoke can cause health problems ranging from a sore throat to asthma symptoms to lung cancer,” said Feigenholtz. “If a condo resident’s smoking can imperil a neighbor’s health, then condominium associations should be able to impose building smoking restrictions.”

This is not the first time that condo associations have grappled with smoking. As the Chicago Tribune reported back in 2010, the 1418 N. Lake Shore Drive condominium association amended its own declaration to “prohibit smoking in interior common elements, interior limited common elements and inside the units.” Smoking was only permitted in units with single rooms that featured association-approved, self-contained air-treatment systems.

Even before that, The Chicago Journal reported on the AMLI 900 high-rise in the South Loop, which became Chicago’s first smoke-free apartment building in the spring of 2009 when it prohibited smoking throughout its 24-story building.

The building, the Journal reported, was on firm legal ground when it made the prohibition.

“Legal experts say condo boards and associations have the legal right to make their condominium property smoke free, just as they are free to prohibit pets,” Don DeBat wrote for the Journal. “There is no state or federal constitutional right for people to smoke.”

And even non-profits have been getting in on the action, offering grants worth ten of thousands of dollars for buildings to restrit smoking.

The “Piloting and Promoting Smoke-free Homes Initiative,” as it was called, was announced last summer by the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project. It offered three associations in Chicago a total of $50,000 to cover the various costs of converting a building into a smoke-free environment, for things such as updating leases, educating residents and other legal documents.

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  • j taylor says:

    I think this is going too far….I feel it is discrimination. One should be able to smoke in their own home or yard without feeling like you are committing a crime. There are sooooo many other things that kill as well……liquor, bus/truck exhausts, prescription drugs abused, staff infections, muggings, mistakes by doctors, gangs, politicians stealing all the money and leaving public poor and creating high suicides among families. etc. Maybe smoking will ease the poor’s anxieties, ever think about that???

    Next you know you Big Brother will be watching EVERYTHIN! So absurd. Stop worrying about the small stuff and let people run their own lives.

    A Disgusted American

  • Kllee says:

    Eliminating smoking in all condominiums and high rise apartments is for the best of everyone. I had a friend who smoked in bed – fell asleep – and the FIRE began. Smoking is dangerous in many ways.
    In one building I handled we designated one room on the first floor away from the lobby and elevators for people who smoked – had a vent to the outside and nothing flammable in the room with concrete walls and floor. It kept cigar and cigarette smells contained. It is overwhelming to walk down the hall to your condo home when it is reeking of stale smoke.

  • Life is risky. From our very birth there are risks each and every day; Our lives have become a quagmire of rules and regulations as mandated through National, State and Local legislation. I believe less is more, fewer laws, fewer rules, less legislation and smaller government. If you do not want to live in a building that has a smoker or a potential smoker, purchase a single family home, or a multi-unit so you can control the rules. There is absolutely no role for government nor any reason laws for of control of personal freedom.
    The very thought of this mandate is reprehensible.

  • PU says:

    I think smoking should be banned in condos. We have a boiler with piped hot water. The pipes extend across the entire floor on each side of the building. Also, we have bathroom and kitchen vents that are connected.

    There were cigar chain smokers two condos down the hall from me and after I washed my laundry my clothes reeked and so did my furniture. At that point, I had to contact management. What was the point in showering for work!

    Also, people smoke pot and I am forced to inhale that as well and if applying for a job with a drug test, it can actually be in my system (per narcotic police officers…that person was a renter and no longer in the building after people on my floor complained for over a year). It made me sick andd my cat kept vomiting next to the front door and shared wall.

    Inhaling second hand smoke gives me severe migraines and I miss work (I have actual allergies to cigarette smoke if not properly ventilated).

    I get it that smoker’s should have rights and I don’t judge people who smoke but they don’t realize the health and work issues (and vet bills) it causes for non-smokers.

  • This is a profoundly needed change to Illinois law. I am a grant recipient of the Piloting and Promoting Smoke-free Homes Initiative. Despite the fact that the majority of owners in my building prefer smoke-free housing, despite the fact that owners are aware that smoking is harmful to children and that there are a number of infants and young children in the building, despite the fact that our building could have used the grant money to change our condo declarations to become smoke free, despite the fact that I researched and lobbied tirelessly to convince the association to change our declarations to become a legally smoke-free building, the association voted NO and decided to simply change the rules instead.

    Owners were concerned about property value impacts and there is very little hard data about how smoke-free declarations impact property values. Changing the declarations is a time-consuming and complex proposition that owners were wary of as well. I felt confident about our choice of attorney, Charles T. VanderVennet, P.C., who has helped other condominiums in this situation, but even with an experienced attorney AND a grant that would have made changing the declarations FREE, changing the declarations was perceived as such an extreme step that the association could not agree to it.

    What I learned is that Illinois law makes it prohibitively difficult for condo unit owners to safeguard their own health and the health of children in their buildings, by forcing associations who want to be smoke-free to change their declarations. Currently, it is easier for apartment buildings to become smoke-free, as all it takes is primarily a smoke-free lease addendum and rules change.

    Any changes to the Illinois’ Condominium Property Act that will enable condo unit owners and associations to more easily adopt smoke-free policies for their buildings will be a great benefit to residents of Illinois.

  • jcarlilesiu says:

    It is absolutely astounding to me the number of people who value their own opinions so much, they wish to push those beliefs off on others. I have never experienced this more than when I moved to Chicago. Apparently, people so perfect in their own right, they feel the need to tell everybody else how they should live. The level of arrogance, and ignorance, of these people is simply astounding. I simply can not fathom telling my neighbors what they can and can’t do in their own unit..

    Somebody needs to tell these people where they can put their opinions. I quit smoking in simple protest to the inexcusable predatory and unfair taxation implemented by our ridiculous representatives. I protested the ban on smoking in private business and claimed slippery slope. They never fail.

    If any of you “leaders” are reading this, I didn’t elect you because I needed a daddy figure to look after me. Look around at the mess you have created and actually do some work that doesn’t involve being my nanny. Thanks in advance.

  • Bob says:

    If cooking, toilet, smoke, and other odors circulate through exhaust ducts of high rises, chances are pretty good the the exhaust fans are not operating, a violation of city building codes. Banning smoking in common areas is understandable, since tempered outside air reaches individual units from the corridors. Recirculated air is not allowed in residential buildings. If that’s the case, smoking may need to be banned until the building inspectors are satisfied that the building conforms to city building codes.

  • jeff o says:

    Our apt building is smoke free since 2011.
    It says so on the outside. Smoke free since 2011.
    Attracts better tenants, and I lived in the building with a smoker underneath me and it was horrible. No place is airtight.

    Some apt buildings can become smokers havens.
    How about an apartment buildings called “Smoke em if youve got em incorporated” ? There is a market for it.
    You likely wont have the best people there and
    higher liklihood for crime and your fire insurance will go up.

  • Shaina says:

    Here is another great video about a smoking ban in Oregon!

  • Chicago Joe says:

    If you want to ban smoking in my condo then make cigarettes illegal. Until then its my place. My living room is not a common area. I have no problem what so ever smoking on my back porch but if a friend or family member comes over for a visit and its cold wet or snowy outside then to be able to allow them to live in my place. If you don’t want to live in a setting where you have neighbors on both sides of you above and below and you she common walls buy a house otherwise

  • Robert Horwitz says:

    Death to these anti smoking Nazi Party people!

  • Edward Lloyd says:

    I live in a condo development with 5 separate boards and a master association. The master association board is attempting to expand the rights of less than 1% of our population, smoking addicts despite the objections of well over 80% of the owners. Currently our rules and regulations prohibit smoking within fifteen feet of buildings. The question becomes is there a legal way to ban smoking throughout our complex of several acres. Smoking is allowed in the condo buildings (except for the clubhouse). We do not have a problem with owners or renters ( mostly renters) smoking in their units or cars however secondhand smoke kills in the open air.

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