Mayor Bloomberg pushes for disclosure on smoking policies in apartment buildings (UPDATED)

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New York City smokers are once again telling Mayor Michael Bloomberg to butt out — except this time, it’s out of their own homes.

The mayor announced yesterday he is proposing legislation that would require apartment buildings to identify as smoking or nonsmoking residences in an effort to cut down on secondhand smoke exposure to renters.

If the legislation is adopted, buildings must establish and disclose to tenants their specific smoking rules for both apartments, as well as other living areas like balconies and courtyards.

One smoker, Audrey Silk, said this time, the mayor has gone too far. Bloomberg is now crossing the line into the homes of New Yorkers in an attempt to create a “smoker-free society,” fumed Silk.

“This should alarm everybody, not just smokers,” said Silk, founder of NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. “There is no valid reason, scientifically or socially, to come into someone’s home and stop them from engaging in an otherwise legal activity.”

The proposed legislation doesn’t require buildings to identify as nonsmoking, though Silk and other smokers predict most landlords will choose to go smoke-free. Buildings would be required to draft their policies within 90 days of the legislation’s enactment, and owners could face $100 fines if they fail to do so.  

Legal pressure

Attorney Eric Finkelstein cited a 2011 lawsuit won by a tenant who stopped paying her rent in protest of smoke that continually entered her apartment from a neighboring unit.
   
Upper East Side renter Danielle Cannon was able to prove that her landlord “violated the warranty of habitability.” Examples like this could lead to more landlords opting for smoke-free buildings, he said. “I would expect landlords will likely embrace this legislation,” he said.


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