Addressing Smoking in Community Associations

Addressing Smoking in Community Associations

By Christyne D. Santisteban / Published August 2023

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Smoking can be a contentious issue in community associations, and particularly in Florida, where the warm climate often encourages outdoor activities. As board members, it is essential to navigate smoking complaints effectively while respecting the rights and well-being of all residents. There are various strategies that community associations can employ to handle smoking-related issues, including referencing the association’s documents and relevant Florida laws to tackle these issues.

When faced with smoking complaints, the first step for board members is to review the association’s governing documents. These documents may include smoking prohibitions or rules regarding the use of common areas, indoor spaces, and individual units. Understanding the association’s rulemaking authority is crucial to determine the scope of regulations that can be implemented. If persistent complaints arise from smoke permeating between units, the association can utilize the nuisance provision outlined in the declaration in tandem with the rules and regulations. Even if smoking is not explicitly addressed in these documents, secondhand smoke and lingering odors can be considered a nuisance. The association can require owners to take necessary measures to eliminate smoke odors and, if necessary, issue a cease and desist notice to address the interference with fellow residents’ peaceful enjoyment of their units. Legal action may be pursued to ensure compliance if the issue persists.

In Florida medical marijuana usage is regulated by specific laws. Individuals seeking authorization to use marijuana for medical purposes must obtain a physician certification from a qualified medical provider. This certification requires a physical examination and a diagnosis of at least one qualifying medical condition. The individual must also be added to the state’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry and possess a Medical Marijuana Use Card issued by the Florida Department of Health. If residents are legally registered to use medical marijuana, the association can request a copy of their Medical Marijuana Use Card for recordkeeping purposes. In the event of complaints, board members can have a conversation with the resident and suggest using marijuana in an area that minimizes impact on other units or residents. Additionally, the association may encourage alternative forms of marijuana consumption, such as pills, edibles, vapors, sublingual options, tinctures, or ointments, as long as the resident’s medical provider authorizes them. It is important to note that while the association can make such requests, it cannot mandate residents to adopt specific options.

Throughout the process of handling smoking-related issues, board members should strive to strike a balance between respecting individual rights and addressing the concerns of the community as a whole. Maintaining open lines of communication and fostering a collaborative environment can help alleviate tensions and promote finding mutually agreeable solutions. Smoking-related complaints in community associations can present challenges for board members, but by understanding the association’s documents, leveraging nuisance provisions, and considering the nuances of medical marijuana usage, effective resolution is possible.

Christyne D. Santisteban, Attorney

Siegfried Rivera

Christyne D. Santisteban is an attorney with the South Florida law firm of Siegfried Rivera who focuses on community association law and is based at the firm’s Coral Gables office. She is a regular contributor to the firm’s association law blog, The firm also maintains offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and its attorneys focus on community association, construction, real estate, and insurance law. For more information, visit or call 305-442-3334.