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Woman banned from smoking in own garden

Paul O'Mahony · 23 Aug 2007, 11:57

Published: 23 Aug 2007 11:57 GMT+02:00

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Earlier this year, The Local reported on the case of a lawyer with an aversion to smoke who sued his neighbour for lighting up in her own back garden. The case eventually ended up at the Environmental Court (Miljödomstolen), which last week sent a delegation to the woman's home.

But the woman, from Åkarp in southern Sweden, refused to allow the two representatives of the court to inspect her property.

"I thought it was crazy. What were they going to do here? This is just ridiculous," she told Sydsvenskan.

The lawyer however was only too pleased to be able to assist the delegates. From his side of the hedge he was able to pinpoint where his neighbour usually chose to smoke her cigarettes.

The delegates proceeded to take meticulous notes, resulting in a scale diagram of the two gardens. According to the court's inspection protocol, the assessment took a total of 40 minutes.

The lawyer also told the court that his sensitivity to cigarette smoke meant he had to wear a breathing mask every time he left his house to walk to the car.

"He walks around with the mask on regardless of whether I'm smoking or not. It used to annoy me but now I don't care any more," the woman told Sydsvenskan.

After reviewing the relevant documentation the court ruled on Monday that most of the woman's garden was now off limits for smoking.

The lawyer's neighbour is angered by the decision, which prevents her from smoking within a nine metre radius of his house.

"I think they have involved themselves in something that is completely insane. They have marked off certain areas in my garden where I may and may not place myself when I smoke - it is so absurd.

"And how many more people are they going to do this to? It's a violation of my freedom," she said.

The lawyer initially requested his neighbour to pay 15,000 kronor ($2,000) to compensate for his suffering, along with an additional 2,000 kronor for each time she lit a fresh cigarette. While the court did not grant him this wish, the woman is not willing to take any chances.

"I actually do go and sit outside the area marked with an X. But I don't do it because I think it's right - I'm just worried I'll be forced to pay and that makes me furious," she said.

Story continues below…

The lawyer on the other hand was delighted with the outcome.

"It is a very satisfactory decision," he told Sydsvenskan.

The protracted feud began last year when the woman received a decidedly unneighbourly letter from the lawyer.

"The only way we can get in and out of our house is by passing the path that faces your house. As such, we can no longer accept you poisoning our existence with your disgusting and unhealthy tobacco smoke," the lawyer wrote.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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