Out in the Open

One woman's dream home goes up in smoke

When smoking inside your apartment gets you kicked out.
Lynette Benson’s studio apartment in St. Petersburg, Florida. She nicknamed it “Lynnlandia”. (Lynette Benson)

Lynette Benson loved her 400-square-foot studio apartment in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.

"That was the first time I could paint the walls any colour I wanted to and do whatever I wanted inside my very own home."
Lynette Benson in the apartment she had to sell and move out of last Spring. (Lynette Benson)

"It was my security blanket, my refuge, and my sanctuary." 

Thirteen years after buying the apartment, in May 2016, Lynette says she was pushed out.

The building decided to go smoke-free. At that point, Lynette was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. 

"I kind of felt like the conditions under which I had purchased my apartment had substantially changed … obviously I wouldn't have bought an apartment that was smoke-free, because I was a smoker."

Lynette thought about quitting, and also considered hiring a lawyer to fight it, but in the end, she sold her apartment at a big loss and moved out.

"I really didn't want to live in an environment where people would be sneaking peeks into my apartment, [saying] 'Do I see an ashtray in there?'," she says.

"I think that we have a duty to tolerate the bad habits of others so that our own bad habits will be tolerated … we can choose to care about our neighbours more than we care about the annoyance or the inconvenience."

Lynette is now living in a trailer. She still smokes — but she's down to two cigarettes a day.

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