Proposal Would Require Building Owners to Set Smoking Rules

The proposal would require all residential buildings in the city to adopt written policies on where tenants and property owners can light up and make sure prospective tenants are aware of the rules

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012  |  Updated 9:24 PM EDT
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A new plan by Mayor Bloomberg would force landlords to declare a smoking policy for their buildings, possibly forcing some tenants to seek homes only in buildings that allow smoking. New Yorkers sounded off on the idea. Ida Siegal reports.

NBC New York

A new plan by Mayor Bloomberg would force landlords to declare a smoking policy for their buildings, possibly forcing some tenants to seek homes only in buildings that allow smoking. New Yorkers sounded off on the idea. Ida Siegal reports.

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Mayor Bloomberg is pitching a plan that would clarify where New Yorkers can smoke inside residential buildings.

The bill, which must still win approval from the City Council, would expand the city's no-smoking campaign into citizens' homes. But the mayor said that he has no intention of barring people from smoking.

"This does not prohibit anything. It just gives people the right to know before they sign a lease," said Bloomberg, who warned that potential tenants and homeowners could have reason to be concerned. "Because of air circulation in buildings, if you smoke in one apartment, other people in the building do get some of that smoke," he said.

In his decade in office, Bloomberg has expanded the city's no-smoking policies, banning cigarettes in bars and restaurants in 2002, then expanding the ban to parks and beaches in 2011. Under the proposal, both would-be renters and apartment buyers would be informed of a building's smoking policy.

According to a survey released Wednesday by the city's Health Department, 68 percent of non-smokers and 45 percent of smokers support a policy requiring landlords to inform tenants whether smoking is allowed in their apartments. Participants were randomly selected for the phone survey of 1,400 people who were reached between January and March this year. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

At least one study has shown that children in apartment buildings are exposed to secondhand smoke more than children living in detached houses. But Audrey Silk, founder of a New York City smokers' rights group, scoffed at the idea that the amount of smoke that filters from one apartment into another presents a danger.

Silk said she remains convinced the proposal could eventually lead to the banning of smoking in apartment buildings — a rule she believes would infringe on citizens' rights.

"You cannot let them take the first step," she said.

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