Proposed Law Would Force Buildings to Draw Up Smoking Policies

By Jill Colvin on April 18, 2012 2:18pm 

Legislation introduced Wednesday would force residential buildings in New York City to adopt written policies outlining where smoking is and is not allowed.
Legislation introduced Wednesday would force residential buildings in New York City to adopt written policies outlining where smoking is and is not allowed.
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Flickr/Lanier67

CITY HALL — Legislation introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday would force residential buildings in New York City to adopt written policies outlining where smoking is and is not allowed, prompting cries of "nanny state" from smoking activists.

Under the proposed bill, landlords would be required to adopt a policy and spell out those rules in new and renewal leases. Building management would be responsible for the rules' enforcement, mayoral spokesman Stu Loeser said.

But while the proposal would not instruct buildings on which policies to set, critics fear the move will lead to smoking bans in buildings and accused the mayor of running a nanny state.

“This is the first step toward legislating smoking bans in buildings,” said Audrey Silk, the founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, who argued that regulating what people can and can't do in their homes represents the “ultimate intrusion into civil liberties.”

Some co-ops already ban smoking in their premises, supporters said.

But Bloomberg defended the proposal, arguing that residents have the right to choose to live smoke-free.

Because of air circulation in buildings, he said, “If you smoke in one apartment, other people in the building do get some of that smoke in their air.”

"This does not prohibit anything. It just gives people the right to know before they sign a lease,” he told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Staten Island.

“It seems to be something that a lot of people want,” he said.

He also insisted that the city has no plans to impose any ban on smoking in any building, despite having already snuffed cigarettes in city restaurants, bars and parks.

“The answer is no,” he said.

“I am a believer, if you want to kill yourself, you should have a right,” he said. “This is purely an informational thing."

“Our job is to inform people and then let them make decisions... and we shouldn't be telling them how to do that.”

Sheelah Feinberg, Executive Director of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, applauded the move as a logical next step.

“The move towards more smoke-free housing options in NYC is the next natural step in protecting the health of our families,” she said in a statement.

“We believe that every New Yorker has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air where they live, work, and play.”

The bill will be formally introduced at a City Council meeting Wednesday afternoon.

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