Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a new law on Wednesday that would require owners of New York City residential buildings with three or more units to create their own smoking policy, whether smoking is allowed or not, and notify current and prospective tenants that smoking is or is not allowed inside apartments, on rooftops, balconies and courtyards.
“Smoking kills and people have the right to know if they are going to be exposed to secondhand smoke,” said Mayor Bloomberg, in a statement. “We pursued this proposal in response to complaints from New Yorkers. It won’t ban smoking in residential buildings, only ensure that New Yorkers can choose a smoke-free place to live.”
The new law is similar to other residential building disclosure policies, such as if a building has a history of bed bugs or has lead paint in the apartments or throughout the building. The law would require landlords to provide a disclosure form to tenants and apartment buyers stating the building’s smoking policy before a lease or sale is finalized. Similar laws have been passed in Maine and Oregon, and several local jurisdictions.
The law would not be a ban on residential smoking, but rather a way for prospective tenants to know whether smoking is permitted or not.
Hal Lehrman, the co-owner of on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, said that it is common that rental forms—especially in small residential buildings that are privately owned—already have a section that indicates whether smoking is allowed or not.
“Many apartment buildings have their own smoking policy,” Lehrman said on Thursday. “Landlords who live in a building while that they rent out the garden apartment or a couple units in a brownstone have no-smoking rules and say it on the rental forms. It really is not uncommon.”
He said it is similar to no-pet policies for residential buildings. He said, as an occasional cigar smoker, that he understands that smokers may be frustrated about the potential law that will create smoking policies for all apartment buildings, which can potentially create more no-smoking apartments for rent.
But, he also sees the other side—the fact that nonsmokers do not want to breath in secondhand smoke. But he doesn’t see the point of Bloomberg’s proposal.
“Many private residential buildings already address this issue directly, a landlord does not want to breath in smoke if they are not a smoker,” he said. “The only reason landlords would want to have a smoking policy is if they make money, landlords are not motivated about the overall health of their tenants unless it comes down to making or losing money.”
A man standing on Seventh Avenue smoking a cigarette, said that he understands the push for a smoking policy in rentals, but does enjoy his rights to smoke wherever and whenever he pleases.
“I’m torn, people should be able to enjoy their own vices,” Patrick Daniels said, who was a smoker for 20 years, quit for five and started back up again. “While I quit I definitely noticed that my neighbors smoked and it was unpleasant. Also, there is no doubt that it affects people’s apartments and atmosphere—it stains the walls yellow and there is a risk of causing a fire.”
Instead of being a public health issue, Daniels said that it comes down to being responsible for how your actions affect the people around you.
“If you rent and don’t own your apartment, you have a responsibility to take care of your apartment,” Daniels said, who does not smoke in his apartment. “We do have to consider that some people don’t like smoke and don’t want to breath in someone else’s. The bottom line is that smoking is bad for you and bad for people around you and you need to be conscious of your neighbors.”