As one commenter already said about this story on the CBC (see here), they saw little reason why it was made public in the first place. It might have been reported that they were moving if it wasn’t cigarette smoke but rather some fiercely smelling food preparation, or cat urine, or loud music. But it made the news, so it is fair game.
So what is wrong about this story?
1. The headline: The family made the choice to leave; they were not forced out. The smoker did not move in with the intention of “smoking out” the tenants above.
2. The claim is that the children were allergic to cigarette smoke; that this was an issue of health. I’m not 100% certain of this but from what I understand cigarette smoke is more of an irritant than an allergen. People like to say they are allergic to things when they just don’t like them. Now it is quite possible that they were disgusted and I appreciate as someone who hates the smell of stale smoke that the apartment might have been truly unbearable (due to the smoker below) but it is unlikely that it was really a health issue.
3. If the story is as reported, the real villain here is neither of the tenants but the landlord. Unless the building is in transition from smoking to nonsmoking, there is little reason why a nonsmoking lease would sit atop a smoking lease. Bad planning and a lack of empathy for clients who hate smoke.
4. I appreciate that perhaps the only response to intolerable conditions was to move (have not many of us moved because we do not like our neighbors or the noise of the street or living under a plane route or simply because of the way the house smells)? But should it be considered in terms of “there ought to be a law?” I hope not.
Living in groups demands some give and take, and also good planning. And if we need to move because we cannot stand something should be seen for what it is; our own desire for a better life and not an assault by people who are just behaving they way they always have.