Recently asks: I am a smoker and I’ve been turned down twice because I smoke even though I only smoke outside. Isn’t that discrimination?
Answer: In a word, no. It is not discrimination. Don’t get too fired up about not being able to find a place to rent because you’re a smoker. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 can’t help you on this one. This RSA states that any person has “the opportunity to obtain housing without discrimination because of age, sex race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability or national origin is hereby recognized and declared a civil right.” (RSA 354-A:8) Furthermore, in 1974 this law was amended to include gender and sex and then amended in 1988 to cover familial status and disability. Smokers are not covered in this or as a protected class.
Owners typically do not want to rent to smokers because of the damage that could potentially be done on or in a property. Cigarette smoke lingers on clothes, furniture, linens and even tapestries. Some owners are sensitive and allergic to cigarette smoke as well so they might be looking out for their own health concerns. The best thing for you to do, if you are a smoker, is to be honest about it when looking for housing so it isn’t a surprise. Or better, head to the pharmacy for some Nicorette gum to kick the habit and use the money you would have spent on cigarettes for a vacation. You may have noticed an increase of ads on TV and non-smoking campaigns- my favorite one is the most recent video put out by The Real Cost featured in this Winter’s Xgames featuring “Little Lungs”, lungs who started smoking young and cannot keep up with the big lung snowboarders. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/nEjrjTsVLY4
With current marijuana laws, consumption is still federally illegal but in certain states you can legally and recreationally light up. Speak to your landlord or lady about what is acceptable on their property and what marijuana policies are on their property and maybe be ready to show your medical card. To reiterate, this isn’t a Civil Right but is a raising subject of popularity and controversy that we’re here to help!