Smoking ban in own garden

Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 20:17 | Posted in odd, smoking, Sweden | 3 Comments

Sydsvenskan writes that a woman in southern Sweden has been banned to smoke in a large part her own garden by an interim ruling of the Environmental court. There is a summary in English on the bizarre case in The Local.

The woman’s neighbor, a lawyer, brought the case to the Environmental Court. In a separate lawsuite in a civil court he is seeking a damage compensation of 15.000 crowns (approximately 1600 €) and a punitive fine of 2000 crowns (213 €) for each cigarette the woman smokes in the restricted area. The lawyer says he is extremely sensitive of tobacco smoke and has to wear a face mask each time he leaves his house. According to the women, her neighbor is in the habit of wearing the mask regardless of whether she is smoking or not.

The Environmental Court sent two representatives to inspect the scene but the woman did not let them in saying that the procedure was a mockery. The plaintiff and his lawyer were nevertheless able to point from their side of the fence where the woman usually smokes in her garden. The inspectors spent 40 minutes in the lawyer’s garden taking detailed notes on the properties.

An air image embedded in Sydsvenskan’s article shows the lawyer’s property framed with blue and the smoking woman’s framed with red. Pending a final ruling, the Environmental Court issued an interim ban order forbiding her to smoke in the marked area at her property on both sides of her house.

I have some personal experience in persons claiming to be so sensitive of tobacco smoke that they frequently complain if somebody smokes in their vicinity, be it even in the open air. Not saying anything about this Swedish lawyer, whom I have never met, my experience is that most of the problems of this sort are rather mental than physical.

I have a hunch that a case like this would have been thrown out of the court in any country other than Sweden. In fact, I have information that it was about to be thrown out in Sweden as well until the plaintiff raised some issues of impartiality whereby one or more members of the panel were changed before the interim ruling.

Sydsvenskan wrote in March 2007 that the quarrel started soon after the lawyer moved in to the neighborhood in 2003. Many turns of correspondence took place until the lawyer decided to sue. The neighbors now only discuss through counsel.



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  1. Sorry to comment on my own article. But the notorious Finnish smoker Jörn Donner doesn’t agree with you about this kind of thing being a Swedish speciality. He says in Sydsvenskan that it could have happened in Finland as well…

  2. By the way, The Daily Mail stole the whole story, and didn’t give Sydsvenskan any credit. Oh well.

  3. I saw that interview with Jörn Donner. He is right that somebody in Finland might try to sue but I do not agree that such a case could have a serious chance of success. A Finnish court would not be likely to examine a case which is not based on law.

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