New Smoking Ban Proposal Targets Condos, Co-Ops

Some buildings don't want you to smoke in your own apartment.

By Jennifer Millman
|  Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011  |  Updated 9:43 AM EDT
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At least half a dozen Manhattan co-ops are considering a highly controversial measure that would make it illegal for individuals to smoke in their own apartments.

The co-op boards are expected to raise the issue of smoke-free buildings before their shareholders at meetings this spring, reports the Wall Street Journal. More co-ops are considering putting the matter to vote.

Such a proposal is in line with the city's anti-smoking campaign, which has become increasingly aggressive over the years. It banned smoking in restaurants, then extended the ban to parks, pedestrian plazas and public beaches.

The city has already banned smoking in public places in any building with at least 10 units, but most privately owned residential buildings have thus far refrained from imposing an all-out smoking ban on condo and co-op owners.

Now, fueled in part by the city's efforts, fear of potential smoking-related lawsuits and increasing concern about the effects of second-hand smoke, the longstanding rules may be about to change.

"At every single board meeting we get complaints about smoke and people asking us when will the board do something," Steven Michaelson, president of an Upper East Side condo that will soon hold a vote on the smoking ban, told the Journal.

Despite the potential health benefits, some property owners aren't enthusiastic about the no-smoking proposal. Some fear it could decrease their property value. Others, non-smokers included, say such a rule would breach their constitutional right to privacy.

Either way, such a hotly debated proposal faces roadblocks. More than two-thirds of all shareholders have to vote to pass a proposal in most co-ops, reports the Journal, and condos may call for at least a three-quarters majority vote to enact the ban.

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