I live in a flat. The flat next door (we share 2 walls) has an old man who smokes 5-6 times a day. Sometimes alone, sometimes with 2-3 friends (I'm guessing, have never been inside but see people come in).

I should report him to the cops but have not. I have a 1-year-old son. We close our front door (which is next to his) at all times and the balcony which is near his most of the time.

Heard of any studies of the effects that the little smoke that might be getting inside our place? Sometimes when we are going out with the baby the front area is smelly, he leaves his door open 2 inches.

  • 3
    The issue is 'second hand smoke' so I'd start there in your research. Whether tobacco or pot, it's the smoke that you need to worry about and, ideally, you don't expose infant lungs to second hand smoke.
    – DA01
    Apr 17, 2013 at 21:28
  • so is smoke from the flat next door in enough qty? not in sam flat .... but some does blow in if we have kept balcony window open ... pot does not have its own effects besides that of regular tobacco?
    – tgkprog
    Apr 18, 2013 at 4:33
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    There have been some studies that show pot smoke is less harmful mainly due to there being less additives. But for an infant, smoke is smoke and not healthy for the child. Is there enough smoke coming in from an open window to cause problems? Hard to say.
    – DA01
    Apr 18, 2013 at 4:36
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    I've heard the rule of thumb is if you can see the smoke (this was for cigarettes; I've also heard the claim before that DA01 mentioned about pot smoke having less additives), then it is second hand smoke, but if you can only smell it, it is too diffuse to be an issue. However, I have never seen any scientific evidence to back this claim up.
    – user420
    Apr 18, 2013 at 12:25
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    But we're not talking about smoke pervading. We're talking about it being present enough that an odor can be detected when walking by his front door. Unless you're actually getting the smoke into your home, which it sounds like you are not, your infant isn't going to be affected. When you take your child through city or suburban streets to a shopping center, you are exposing them to a lot more automotive and diesel fumes in much greater quantities than that, but because it's not a "drug," you accept that as normal environmental exposure. We're talking less than that, here. Aug 25, 2016 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


The National Institute on Drug Abuse has the following information about marijuana and the brain:

Marijuana use impairs a person's ability to form new memories and to shift focus. THC also disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. According to the website, the jury is still out as to exactly how long-lasting some of these effects are. Some research seems to indicate that adolescents who smoke pot on a regular basis suffer significantly from memory loss, including one study that suggests a decrease in IQ of up to 8 points even years after they quit smoking. However, other studies seem to suggest that the memory loss is temporary and can rebound after a person has been "clean" for several weeks.

This doesn't necessarily help you with your infant, but since you're child's brain is still developing it would concern me to to expose him to anything that could effect his memory, his ability to focus, or his coordination. Additionally, since he is so small, the concentration required to effect him would be quite a bit lower than the concentration needed to produce similar effects in adults. Either way, it isn't healthy for a child to be around any type of smoke.

The question is how much exposure is your child getting. The Centers for Disease Control has some interesting information on second-hand smoke. It's pretty apparent they are talking almost exclusively about second-hand cigarette smoke, but it does raise the question of asthma and other respiratory problems which can occur regardless of the type of smoke one is exposed to.

A somewhat new concern is something called "third-hand smoke" which is residual particulates that contaminate surfaces after a cigarette has been extinguished. This is one of the reasons why homes and apartments will still smell like cigarette smoke even years after the smoker has left or quit smoking. The smell that permeates carpets, sofas, chairs, etc. It is suggested that children are especially at risk for this type of "smoke" since they tend to play on floors and their faces are typically right at couch-height especially when they're learning to walk. This doesn't seem to be a concern with you since the smoking is not occurring in your apartment.

As with any smells, I think it's worth noting that sometimes you simply grow accustomed to having a particular smell around and you stop noticing it. Your apartment could smell like pot smoke and you just don't notice it anymore--especially if there are any vents in the two walls that you share with this particular apartment.

You could just try talking to him about it. The pot smokers I've known (those who smoke only pot--nothing else), are generally very laid-back, affable people who would probably understand if you asked him to let you know before he smoked on the balcony or to shut his door so as to avoid letting the smoke out into the hallway. However, as we've all ready established, marijuana effects memory so he might not remember that you asked--especially if he's a something of a frequent user.

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    thank you. i think i just need to shift away from here asap. that or complain to the police, in India its still an offense. He is laid back when he wants to be not when you ask him to change anything that you would want. Tried reasoning with him, that is a long story more than the chars allowed here :(
    – tgkprog
    Apr 18, 2013 at 15:54
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    Sounds like he's a less-than-stellar neighbor even without the marijuana smoking.
    – Meg Coates
    Apr 19, 2013 at 0:59
  • yes he is a horrible person. taken things from shops and does not pay for them. and a few more things ; bad experience
    – tgkprog
    Apr 19, 2013 at 10:24

I have searched numerous databases and am finding no studies directly addressing this. I did find that there are links from secondhand smoke to respiratory issues and also increased infections (reduced immunity) in small children - so I would consider either of those as signs to be concerned. In the absence of such symptoms, I would say you are probably doing well by keeping the smoke away as much as you are.

If the smoke is not having any health effects, then the question of whether to move is a separate discussion. You may end up trading one problem for another that is worse, so it becomes a question of evaluating your alternatives. Though there are negatives making you want to move, there may also be positives that make you want to stay where you are at, like a short work commute, family living close by, cost, convenience of area assets (park, library, shops), and safety.

  • hit the nail with the last part. this place is central. thank you.
    – tgkprog
    Apr 25, 2013 at 6:31
  • thank you for your efforts. wanted to reward both answers, as both had useful information. Curious: what data bases did you search, if its okay to share ?
    – tgkprog
    Apr 29, 2013 at 9:07
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    I started with Google scholar, because it indexes articles in very many databases, some of which I can access through my public library (Ebsco, Medline, Gale Health) and some through a university connection (Proquest, JStor, and others). I skimmed through a lot of articles, but mostly they were about the effects of tobacco smoke in the home or about the effects of marijuana smoke in utero. There was one article which I could not access from 1989 (JAMA Pediatrics) that addressed teenage girls who were blowing marijuana smoke into the faces of babies they were babysitting, which is extreme.
    – MJ6
    Apr 29, 2013 at 15:03
  • The question is whether being able to detect the odor as you leave your flat and walk by their door actually rises to the level of "second-hand" exposure. I'm somewhat skeptical that it applies. Aug 25, 2016 at 17:31

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