ABU DHABI // Residents in tower blocks say they are sick of second-hand smoke seeping into their flats because of poor ventilation and cigarette butts thrown from balconies.
They said the stale tobacco smell and the litter were both a health risk and significant environmental nuisance.
Toddlers found the butts and put them in their mouths, while cigarette ends tossed from balconies or discarded without being extinguished posed a fire hazard.
Charlotte Cochrane-Dyet, 31, a new mother from the UK, was among those frustrated by her neighbour’s tobacco habit.
“I notice the smell of my neighbour’s cigarettes seeping under my front door,” she said. “Sometimes makes my whole sitting room stink.
“It is horrible, especially as I have a new-born baby. Luckily, my neighbour is a pilot and isn’t around all the time as I would probably make a bit of a fuss.
“I am an ex-smoker and now cannot stand the smell of stale cigarettes.”
Al Muneera resident Laura Barlow agreed. While smoke smell in her apartment block was “annoying”, her chief issue was finding butts on her balcony.
“I have toddlers who find them and stick them in their mouths,” said the 34-year-old American. “We have a canvas cover on our barbecue that could catch fire. These are major safety issues. It is not just a question of preference, of whether I don’t like the smell.”
Another Al Muneera resident, C B, called smokers who tossed butts crazy and dangerous.
“Shops sell buckets that people can put their cigarette butts in,” she said. “They self-extinguish and since they are enclosed, the smoke can’t blow around. Fire safety is so important, especially in high-rise, multifamily dwellings. It’s so hot here, plus with the salt in the air, things are extra flammable.”
The dangers were illustrated less than a month ago, when a discarded butt was thought to be behind a blaze at the 75-storey Sulafa Tower in Dubai Marina.
The antisocial element of second-hand smoke and cigarette littering also angered residents.
“It annoys me when I get in the lift and someone has again thought the rules don’t apply to them, because it stinks of smoke,” said Carol Goodey, 52, a British Al Muneera resident.
Elrina Sinton objected to vapours travelling through the vents and into her bedroom.
“At that time my premature twins were a couple of months old. It posed a huge concern for me with their breathing,” she said. “Nothing could be done as it’s the way our buildings are designed.”
Abu Dhabi resident Kate Goodall, another non-smoker, said: “I quite often smell smoke from people on the balcony below. In our maid’s room, which we use as an office, I have no idea where the smell comes from as I am not near doors, windows or a balcony.”
Since personal dwellings in the UAE are not considered to be public spaces, they are generally not covered under anti-tobacco legislation regulating smoking. Management of some residential buildings, however, may attempt to enforce tobacco-free blocks and mandate in leases that smoking is banned in flats.
Dubai Municipality and Abu Dhabi Municipality did not respond to requests for comment.
Source: uae news