Man Ordered to Stop Smoking in Own Home Because Neighbor is Pregnant

A man has been ordered by a court of law to stop smoking in his own home. The man, Edwin Gray of Washington D.C., has long enjoyed a cigarette in the privacy of his own home, but a judge has ruled that his cigarette smoke is a danger to his next door neighbor, who is pregnant, and that he can no longer smoke in this house.


The trouble started when Gray, who has lived in the house owned by his family for 50 years, got some new neighbors. The neighbors have one kid and another on the way. Smoke from Gray's cigarettes was apparently snaking downstairs into the basement, from there into a hole, and from the hole into the neighbor's home. (Presumably the homes are linked, as many townhouses are.)

The neighbor eventually took Gray to court to stop his smoking -- and it worked! At least temporarily. A temporary injunction has ordered Gray to cut his nicotine habit while the civil lawsuit filed by the neighbors works its way through the courts.

Gray griped to WJLA:

You want me to stop what I've been doing in my house, all my life.

Lawyers are calling this case precedent setting -- and it does seem massively unfair that Gray is being told what to do in his own home. However, neighbors can't just do whatever they want to do if it affects the quality of life of the person next door. Normally, you hear about noise issues -- blasting music, barking dogs, buzzing chainsaws. These are the things that normally require outside interference if they can't be dealt with by the neighbors.

It's unclear why Gray or the neighbor couldn't just patch up the hole that was spewing smoke from one home to another -- perhaps it couldn't be found.

But here's my question: What is anyone going to do about the baby on the way? Because you just know that sucker is gonna scream its head off every couple of hours every night, and poor Gray might lose some sleep! Believe me, I know. As the downstairs neighbor of a woman with a toddler and an infant, I don't think I've had a good night's sleep in three years.

So neighbors do things that annoy you -- that's the price you pay if you don't live on your own private island. Neighbors should be considerate of each other -- but sometimes our own wants and needs, and a desire to do the things we want to do regardless, get in the way of our neighbors' peace.

Gray's neighbors are also asking for $500,000 damages. What?! Did they DIE?!

I do feel sorry for Gray -- he's doing something perfectly legal, though it may be killing him. Also, he's addicted. It's not easy to just stop smoking. Though this is one interesting way to get him to stop. Plus, he was there long before the neighbor!

I also have to wonder about the neighbors. Do they not realize they live in a city filled with grit and grime and plenty of pollution? Do they plan to file a lawsuit against every car that drives past their home?

On the other hand, it must be terrible to constantly be breathing in someone else's smoke.

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Gah, I'm not sure whose side to take here. I feel like he should get to smoke a little, and her baby should get to cry a little. But he should have to go outside to smoke sometimes, or build a smoking room. And she should have to soundproof! (Okay, I'm just assuming the baby's cries might bother him.) All I know is, if that baby wakes him up, he should puff on a cigar right on their front porch.

Whose team are you on?


Image via Kristaps Bergfelds/Flickr


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