Crack down on inconsiderate smoking neighbours

I am one of the HDB dwellers who have been exposed to second-hand smoke from neighbours living in the flat below.

In my case, the family of three are all chain smokers and, on weekends, they would invite their friends, who are also smokers.

They smoke in the balcony, bedrooms, kitchen and toilets with the doors and windows wide open. Ceiling fans and exhaust fans expel cigarette smoke from their flat.

Though I had been suffering from chronic respiratory infections since moving into the flat five years ago, I was unaware of the harmfulness of the second-hand smoke until a chest X-ray during a medical check up last year showed that I had a growth in my lower right lung.

A subsequent CT scan found some scarring and nodules as well.

It was a wake-up call for me to protect myself from prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke.

I wrote to the HDB, National Environment Agency and my MP for assistance.

An NEA officer visited my neighbours and advised them to exercise control in smoking so as not to affect their neighbours.

But my neighbours became angry and shouted loudly at me that they had done nothing wrong by smoking in their home. They recommended that I move out instead.

I have contemplated doing this, but there is no guarantee that I will be safe from second-hand smoke in my next flat. Whoever buys my flat would also be exposed to the smoke.

It is time for the HDB to implement a law on "smoke drift" (Protect HDB residents from second-hand smoke too, by Mr Paul Philpott; July l6).

My neighbours continue to enjoy smoking and ignore the harm their bad behaviour is causing.

Meanwhile, I am undergoing treatment for my respiratory problems. There is no one who can be held liable and who will compensate me for my medical expenses and the irreversible damage to my health.

Non-smokers breathing in second-hand smoke take in the same nicotine, carcinogens and toxic chemicals that smokers do. There is no safe level of exposure for second-hand smoke.

All HDB residents lease their flats from the HDB. As the lessor, the HDB is obligated to protect its lessees from harm by inconsiderate lessees.

Hence, it must act swiftly to protect non-smoking residents from prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke.

Kong Hoe Mui (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Crack down on inconsiderate smoking neighbours'. Print Edition | Subscribe