Does Cigarette Smoke from My Downstairs Neighbor Affect My Garden?

in Neighbors on by

If your downstairs neighbor has a habit of blowing cigarette smoke outside right below your balcony, you may be worried about your outdoor garden or any other plants you keep outside. Read on for more information on whether or not secondhand smoke can affect your garden.

Direct Contact Outdoors

A downstairs neighbor smoking directly below your outdoor garden consistently will definitely affect your outdoor garden’s health. Thousands of chemicals are released by the burning of tobacco and the exhaling of cigarette smoke and this smoke will rise along with the chemicals, coming into contact with any plant life you keep on your balcony along the way. The chemicals resulting from smoking can affect plants by diminishing their carbon dioxide intake and clogging up the pores on the leaves and stem that exhale oxygen. Chemicals that accumulate on the leaves and stem can also block sunlight and impede photosynthesis.

Chemicals from cigarette smoke can also build up in the soil of plant life, disturbing microorganisms and weakening roots. The plants can then not properly absorb nutrients from the soil. Overall, cigarette smoke can leave a plant malnourished, lacking light and lacking carbon dioxide.

Indirect Contact Indoors

Your indoor garden can even by affected by your downstairs neighbor smoking in his or her own apartment. While those who are not highly sensitive to smoke may not notice it, smoke can travel through flooring and walls and penetrate into neighboring apartments, particularly if the apartment complex is older and not designed to block smoke. People with asthma and smoke allergies often notice when a neighbor has been smoking.

Even if you can’t smell the smoke, your plants may begin to suffer from the affects of cigarette smoke over the long term. While damage will take longer to accumulate than when the plants and smokers are both outside, over time, your garden may die due to the smoke.

Signs Your Garden Is Affected by Cigarette Smoke

Plant life that is affected by cigarette smoke will wither and die even despite proper watering and access to sunlight. If your plant’s leaves are starting to shrivel up and fall off or you notice a grey to black burnt-like mark on your plant, this could be the long-term affects of absorbing cigarette smoke. The plants may also appear pale green, yellowish or brown in color as they start becoming deprived of carbon dioxide.

What You Can Do

If smoking is allowed in the apartment complex, there’s nothing much you can do to stop your downstairs neighbor from damaging your plants, other than to try and move the plants to an area near a window and keep the window open whenever you can. You can also lightly spray the plants with a spritzer and, if the leaves are strong enough, wipe them down with a cloth about once a week to try and keep the accumulation of chemicals from blocking pores on the plant’s leaves and stem.

While you may not smoke, even cigarette smoke from your downstairs neighbor can damage your plant life. Smoke that travels through walls can also affect your own health, so if it’s possible, you may want to consider moving to a smoke-free building.


18 Responses to “Does Cigarette Smoke from My Downstairs Neighbor Affect My Garden?”

  1. April 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm, hiredgoonz said:

    I can only assume that this is a satire piece that was intended for The Onion. Cigarette smoke, in an outdoor environment, is not going to do ANYTHING to a garden. Before you post dogmatic, non-factual drivel, I recommend doing a tiny bit of research. Specifically, look for the OSHA study on the concentrations of cigarette smoke required to attain a harmful level of any of the chemicals you refer to.

    On another note, if cigarette smoke is the worst thing your plants have to worry about, I can only imagine you live in a rural area free of industry, automobiles, BBQ grills, fireplaces, or any other mechanisms which produce smoke.

    This anti-smoking zealotry has really gotten out of hand and irresponsibly uninformed opinion pieces like this do a great disservice to society by perpetuating beliefs that have no basis in reality.


  2. April 18, 2010 at 3:50 am, Alex said:

    I have to agree with the first comment, when I read the title I just had to click to read this absurd article.


  3. April 23, 2010 at 11:30 am, doug said:

    Anti-smoking advocates are rediculous. People who never frequent bars have voted no-smoking in same. I now can carry a gun into a bar,but cannot light a cigarette ,because second hand smoke is dangerous. DUH!


  4. April 24, 2010 at 5:00 am, Russ said:

    yes if this is a joke,it’s not funny,shame on the author of this ridiculous drivel,you should be more responsible with your posts,someone might believe you…perhaps some old lady,who now will fret incessantly over the b.s. that u posted here.A cow fart,I’ve heard,destroys the ozone…..weigh in on that one STAFF WRITER!


  5. May 02, 2010 at 12:40 am, Tanya said:

    I Agree With All of The Above!!! And I Had To Put My Two Cents In, I Am A Smoker And This Is Ridiculous! It Makes Me Think Maybe I Was The Person That This Person That Wrote This Was Writing About Because I Live On A Lower Level And Have Neighbors Beside Me That I’m Sure My Smoke Goes In There Window If They Have Open. I Seldom Smoke Outside, I Usually Always Smoke Out of My Bathroom Window or In The Kitchen With The Windows Open (Depending On Where My Mother Is, She’s Sensitive To The Smoke But I Can Still Smoke In The House). So I’m Thinking It Was Some Old Bitty That’s Sittin’ Around With Nothing Better To Do Than To Think Up This Bulls*** And That’s All It Is! Get A Life!!!


  6. May 13, 2010 at 1:11 am, Sharon Langer said:

    This is all so ridiculous, its hard to comment rationally. Given the pollutants in our air, water and ground, its amazing that plants grow anywhere. However, they DO Grow. Although I smoked profusely, my Santa Fe garden was a star of the neigborhood. Even my house plants were good.
    And Tanya, I agree with your sentiments, but I take exception to you and Russ. I am a member of what you might call “The Old Bitty’s”…I am old and I have fought for individual rights since 1963. Its not “old Bittys” leading this charge, but the “politically correct”, and they are pretty much every age and everywhere.


  7. May 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm, Kate said:

    I live in a top floor flat, I have an old man who lives below me and a husband and wife who live in a flat accross from me, I smoke in my flat ad am worried that my neighbours can smell my smoke. The flat that is accross from me isn’t right next door because there is a hall way and stair well in between, so I think maybe the smoke couldn’t travel that far, but I’m not sure or if the flat below can smell it either. Can anyone help me please?


  8. May 29, 2010 at 8:18 pm, kris said:

    hahaha, hilarious! Someone else’s smoke damaging a garden? Um, okay.. I guess then that a car driving in the neighborhood would kill it too with the exhaust. Maybe an overweight person walking by may damage the garden as well, and what about foul smells? That would harm the garden too.


  9. June 14, 2010 at 12:47 am, Bob said:

    Yes, all your plants will get cancer and die.


  10. July 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm, Mary said:

    Ha! You ignorant foolish cancer spreading idiots. Your smoking is causing cancerous fumes that are killing humans by the millions. What makes you think that plants, as fragile as they are, don’t matter? While you are sucking on your cancer sticks and laughing at those who are much more intelligent to know the difference, we are dying from your dirty habit. Shame on you all above for making such ridiculuous posts. Smokers are like mosquitos, they suck the blood out of someone, give them a horrible itchy bite and then go and die. QUIT SMOKING AND SAVE YOUR LIFE ALONG WITH ALL THE LIVES THAT YOU ARE AFFECTING.


  11. July 23, 2010 at 1:40 am, JoeSmo said:

    This is nothing but a fabricated liberal agenda as with Global Warning. Don’t let Algore bore you to death on this one. The people who actually think this are communist nuts who are Un American Terrorists that need to move to Communist China where you can live happily ever after. You can’t arrest us all and you can’t deport us all, we will continue to smoke and as long as I can vote I will always vote against building new jails and prisons and have not and will not fill out the census because I don’t want my monies going towards communist dictators like Nancy Pelosi and her friends. I see that Mary and Bob are communist jerks.


  12. August 11, 2010 at 8:39 am, annarose said:

    Seems to me that joesmo doth protest too much,perhaps subliminally fearful of the BIC C which sadly so prematurely ends so many millions of young lives .He should spend some time with asthmatic child victims of mothers who smoked during pregnancy . With diminished lung capacity and stunted growth these innocent victims will never climb mountains, excel at football or any vigorous form of sport. He ight benefit from a spell with the medics on a special ward for babies born with lung cancer.
    As for his phobia about China ,no need to worry ,they are vigorously following the US example and smoking themselves to premature deaths at an unprecednted rate . Vulgar abuse often denotes inner terror


  13. August 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm, Montebianco said:

    The “Staff Writer” who wrote this abysmal “article” should not be allowed to publish anything ever again.


    If I wrote something that poor, I’d break my fingers every hour so that I could not type or write again, thereby sparing the world the pain of my stupidity.

    By the way, if a person is going to make these sweeping, unsupportable statements and allege them as fact, then he should be required to provide his real name as the author of the piece.

    Just unbelievably bad writing, logic and research.


  14. September 02, 2010 at 9:39 pm, Tim said:

    What a joke


  15. September 30, 2010 at 12:48 pm, TomatoLady1 said:

    It’s truly scary to think how many people will think this is a legitimate “informational” piece!

    I am NOT a smoker but even I do not believe that second hand smoke drifitng up from the downstairs apartment will adversely affect houseplants. Unless you are holding a bag of tobacco smoke directly over the plants themselves and gassing them, that is.

    What WILL affect your houseplants:
    1) the fumes from the chemicals used in the manufacture of the carpets your own living room;
    2) household cleaner fumes;
    3) smoke from a bar-b-que grill;
    4) chlorine in the water used to water the plants;
    5) the gasses given off by cooking food in a Teflon coated frying pan on high heat!
    All of the above have a better chance of killing off the more fragile plants than second hand tobacco smoke. In fact, there are plants that are used to clean the air of a room and thrive on “bad air”. If you are concerned with air quality due to second hand smoke, buy those plants and everything will be fine for you. Even touching the leaves of most plants with your bare hands isn’t great for them–something about the skin oil affects them after a while. So stop petting your plants! 😉

    Annarose, thanks for the best news I’ve heard about China in months.


  16. October 01, 2010 at 9:29 pm, Mandy said:

    Dear smokers,



  17. October 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm, Caitlyn Williams BOTANY EXPERT said:

    You are all morons. In fact smoke be it secon hand or not, will infact damage your plants. You all have no idea what complete idiots you are.
    Content of Cigarette Smoke

    Tobacco smoke contains an astounding 4,000 chemicals, the majority of which have detrimental effects on health, being either poisonous or carcinogenic. These include nicotine, which is the addictive substance, and although there are only small amounts present in tobacco, in larger doses nicotine is lethal. Also present are carbon monoxide, which is found in exhaust fumes; arsenic, which is a highly poisonous substance commonly used in rat poison; and hydrogen cyanide, which was the most common poison used in gas chambers. Formaldehyde is also present and is a carcinogen that is used as embalming fluid.

    Effects of Smoke on Plant Health

    Over an extended period, houseplants exposed to tobacco smoke may eventually be suffocated, as particles found in smoke coat the leaves and stem of the plant, blocking the stoma, which are small pores on the underside of leaves used for gas exchange. In effect, the plant is unable to “breathe.” By coating the leaves of the plant, the particles create a layer, or barrier, which reduces plants’ ability to photosynthesize effectively. Photosynthesis is the complex process that allow plants to “digest” nutrients. Both photosynthesis and gaseous exchange are vital for plants to grow, flourish and remain healthy.

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    Indoor Plants

    NASA studies have found that plants have complex pollution-absorbing capabilities and help to purify and revitalize air. The results of the combined studies of NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) showed that common indoor ornamental plants were so effective at removing pollutants from air, including many of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, that a number of the most effective plants will be launched aboard orbiting space stations as part of the biological life support systems.

    The Study

    Although plants remove substances from the air via the stoma, a study concluded that roots, bacteria in the soil and the leaves are all necessary in air purification. During experiments, activated carbon was placed in the plant pots. The roots of the plants grew into the carbon and degraded the chemicals absorbed from the air by the carbon. The evidence from the initial two-year study by NASA and ALCA provided some very promising and conclusive results, but further research was deemed necessary. Bill Wolverton, a former lead research scientist based at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, states, “We feel that future results will provide an even stronger argument that common indoor landscaping plants can be a very effective part of a system used to provide pollution free homes and workplaces.” The most effective plants trialed for air purification include philodendron, spathiphyllum, golden pathos and dracaena massangeana.


    While plants are very useful in air purification and combating airborne pollutants, including those found in cigarette smoke, continued exposure to tobacco smoke can eventually suffocate and kill plants. It is advisable to clean both the upper and undersides of leaves of indoor plants to prevent a barrier of harmful particles building up on the leaves and stem, preventing plants from photosynthesizing. If the leaves and stem are periodically cleaned with a damp cloth, particles are removed, allowing plants to photosynthesize unhindered. Gentle cleaning also unclogs the stoma, meaning that gaseous exchange can take place uninterrupted. If you look after your plants, they will help to look after you.

    DONT BE MORONS AND STOP SMOKING,you can contact me at: if you have any questions


  18. March 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm, Josh said:

    Thank you Caitlyn! I love it when someone responds to discussions with actual facts instead of us just having to rely on group opinions! :)


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