In today’s NYT, their etiquette columnist (kind of like “Dear Abby” for those of us not living in 1950) addressed a question about smells coming through the walls of a multi-unit residence and causing some identifiable health problems for the questioner. The answer — which seems reasonable to interpret as the official word of the paper — was that the writer who complained should start by getting a contractor to try to fix the air leaks and if that does not work to ask very that the offending smell-producing neighbor stop producing the smell, but do so extremely nicely since the neighbor has absolutely no obligation to change his/her behavior.
The offending and health-affecting smell in this case was some kind of perfume smell from an air freshener. What I wonder is if this newspaper has previously reported on efforts to prohibit people from smoking in multi-unit residential buildings — because of the drifting bits of smoke and their smell and purely speculative health effects — and either editorialized in favor of such action or offered no hint that there was anything extreme about the efforts.
– Carl V. Phillips