Local Culture

My neighborhood’s culture has changed a lot in the last year or so.  I wish I were excited about this change, but I’m not.

It’s not that I’ve suddenly become an ethnic minority on my street.  I might find that fascinating.  There have been some departures and some new arrivals.  As far as I know, many of the new people are very nice.  The thing is they’ve changed the local culture–and not for the better.  At least not as far as I’m concerned.

At first glance, there are some positive changes.  People are around and visible.  They sit on their stoops.  They call out friendly greetings or smile and nod.

So what’s the problem?  They smoke.  A lot.

Many of them rent and aren’t allowed to smoke in their homes.  Others don’t want to expose their children–or their homes– to second hand smoke.  I understand that. I’m thankful they want to protect their loved ones.  That’s the good part.

The bad part?  I’m negatively affected by it.  If I want to keep my house smoke free in warmer weather, I can’t have any of my windows or doors open.  The people I share a porch with . . . smokers.  The family two doors down from them?  More smokers than I can count.  The family three houses in the other direction?  You guessed it, smokers.  Across the street?  Smokers.  In the houses behind mine?  More smokers.

I’m surrounded.

I applaud public health laws that keep second hand smoke away from the general population in restaurants and other public places.  I’ve lived in places around the world where that’s not the case.  I appreciate the way my exposure to smoke is limited in so many of the places I frequent.

I’m dismayed that there’s nothing to protect me in my home.  I can’t enjoy my porch without the stench of the stale smoke that has permeated the building materials of my house.  I can’t sit and enjoy the sun without poisoning my body while my neighbors are present .  On a warm day, I can’t fill my home fresh air.  On a really warm day, I have to choose between sweating and inhaling another’s smoke while it permeates everything I own.

I can think of no good solution to this problem.  Legislating away cigarettes seems unlikely for a number of reasons.  Asking my neighbors to smoke somewhere else isn’t reasonable.  I just know the culture in my neighborhood has changed, and I don’t like it.

What changes have been going on around you?

photo courtesy of graur codrin on freedigitalphotos.net


6 responses to “Local Culture”

  1. Not cool! I’m sorry you have to deal with that! We have noticed in the past few weeks people smoking in the parking lot at church (before and after) and even going so far as walking up to the doors smoking. Now, this is hard. We want t be welcoming to people at church. God loves everyone after all. But we can’t escape it to take our baby and toddler into the building (and some of the smell travels in). I would think public laws would qualify but again, who wants to make people feel uncomfortable at church? Thankfully we only have to deal with it once a week. I can relate to your neighborhood problem. We had a similar stuation at our old house – our next door neighbors had a toddler so the man would not smoke in their house (they also rented) but we couldn’t leave our bedroom windows open or be in our yard without smelling it. I know you can’t move. I just want you to know you are not alone. Maybe someone who reads this will have good advice.

  2. Thanks, Tirzah! It’s such a hard thing. I feel bad for the smokers. I know what they’re doing to their bodies, and they probably do, too. There are so many things in cigarettes to be addicted to . . . I can imagine how impossible it feels to even try quitting. I don’t want to make their lives more difficult, but they make mine more difficult . . . and probably without thought about it. *Sigh* I wish there was an easy solution. In my research I’ve seen some movement towards limiting smoking in tight spaces when it affects others. Mostly it is in Canada, but I saw one case for somewhere here in the States. I don’t want a police state. I want freedom from my neighbors’ smoke.

  3. Sheryl, we have the same problem, the family next door to us (we live in a duplex) smokes a lot. The wife of the owner has asthma and is on oxygen so the rest of the the residents; her husband, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend, all smoke on either the back deck or the front stoop. Really nice folks, we have shared many a conversation, coordinated paint colors for our front shutters, etc. But, we can’t leave our windows open without smelling their cigarettes. It is sweet the way they all defer to Mom, but it is so difficult for us. And we like to eat on our deck when we grill. Alas, no ideas come to mind. We do have a whole house fan which we use to ventilate and keeps the air moving, and it seems to help dissipate the cigarette smell. Maybe that would help you as well.

  4. I feel your pain, Cyndi. I’m not sure my house would accommodate a whole house fan, but it’s something to consider. I’m sure it would be less expensive than air conditioning.

  5. I’m struggling to relate to this, because this culture that is new for you is one we lived in all the time in Strasbourg. There just weren’t many ways to escape the cigarette smoke, and we ended up just living with it. I guess I got used to it.
    Mom’s here, wondering if you could move… But I’m sure that’s not a happy thought. I will pray about this with you.
    Bon voyage!!!

  6. Thanks for your thoughts, Soul. Interesting. I don’t remember smelling smoke in your home in Strasbourg. I know it’s part of walking around/public culture in France. Perhaps it’s because I was chez toi in colder months when things are more closed up. It’s not such a deal in the winter, though I hate the way my porch smells of stale smoke.

    Hooray for a visit from Mom! Hooray for Mom! I’m all for moving . . . but it doesn’t seem to be a popular thought with the powers that be. *Sigh* I love you!!!! Big ‘ugs!!!!

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