Debate fumes as Sydney apartments stub out smoking

An Australian apartment block which has banned residents from smoking in their homes has sparked anger from civil libertarians but advocates say it could be the way of the future for high-density living.

Owners of the apartments in Sydney's inner western suburb of Ashfield agreed to introduce a by-law which bars anyone smoking inside their flats or on their balconies, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday.

"We've made it a smoke-free zone in its entirety," chairman of the owners' corporate body Alex Antic told the paper.

The move came about after some residents of the late 1960s building had complained about smoke drifting into their apartments from vents in the ceiling or from neighbours lighting up on their balconies.

"In addition, we had constant problems with cigarette butts all over the garden and footpath," Antic said.

"So we asked our managers if we could have a by-law to ban all smoking in units as well as on common property and two weeks later they came back with a draft of a by-law to make the building a smoke-free zone in its entirety."

Owners then accepted the proposal at an annual meeting, the paper said.

While those in real estate and apartment management said non-smoking residences could become more popular in high-density cities, civil libertarians labelled the move outrageous.

"You can't ban the use of a lawful product in someone's own home," said New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy.

"The next thing is they'll be banning the drinking of coffee."