Smokers vs. Lawyers

Smokers vs. Lawyers

Smokers vs. Lawyers

Science, technology, and life.
April 9 2008 12:30 PM

Smokers vs. Lawyers

Here's my favorite news story from this morning's batch : The New York condo smoking suit has been settled. I did an introductory item on this two months ago when the suit was first reported . Basically, the plaintiffs accused the defendant of letting smoke seep out from her apartment, around a closed door, and into the hallway, where it allegedly endangered the health of their child. The story has several juicy angles, including that both members of the plaintiff couple are lawyers and that the defendant is named Huff. According to the New York Times , the plaintiffs also accused the defendant of "encouraging her Chihuahua to urinate on their son's stroller in retaliation for their complaints." Evidently unable to refrain from putting his worst thoughts in writing, the lawyer-plaintiff husband added an e-mail message to the Times , stating, "I am confident you will find a way to make us look like terrible people all over again for insisting on such an onerous thing." The Times duly reprinted it.

I've been amazed by the speed and scope of the worldwide crackdown on smoking. In this case, I'm particularly sympathetic to the defendant, since she lived in the building 10 years before the plaintiffs arrived. On the other hand, I regard smoking as equivalent to constant farting, except for the fact that farting—apart from its carbon footprint (buttprint?)—doesn't harm anyone else.

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So how did the case settle? Apparently, initial reports of the suit prompted a company to offer a free air-filtering system. Ms. Huff has "agreed to use the donated air filters and a smokeless ashtray, which is all we ever asked her to do," the plaintiff husband explains. Technology to the rescue again ! And since the filtration company offered its goods and services gratis, let's make sure it gets the publicity it was angling for all along: http://www.aerusonline.com/ .

Now for the really interesting question. Which is worse: smokers or lawyers? My answer is that it depends how far they're standing from you. Lawyers can make a lot more trouble by phone, mail, and electronic text. But for companionship in close quarters, I'll take a lawyer any day. In fact, I already did so, nine years ago, when I got married. So don't send your smoke under my front door, or you'll have to answer to my lawyer.

Outdoors is another matter. If, after this post appears in Slate , you find my clothes and furniture out in front of our house, feel free to park on the sofa and enjoy a cigarette.