A smoker takes a drag. // Photo by Julie Bochinno

New Law Compels Landlords to Take a Stand on Smoking

Roughly 15 percent of Queens residents still smoke cigarettes.

By David Brand

A new smoking disclosure policy takes effect in residential buildings across the city Tuesday, compelling landlords to take a stand on smoking or risk a fine.

The new measure mandates that all residential buildings with three or more units adopt an official smoking policy and share it with tenants and residents.

Unlike the recently enacted smoking ban inside New York City Housing Authority buildings, the new law does not prohibit smoking inside buildings. Instead, landlords and building owners are required to disclose their policy on whether or not the building allows smoking and post the policy in a prominent place.

“Smoke-free housing in general is a growing trend,” said Deidre Sully the director of the NYC Smoke-Free program at Public Health Solutions, which works with the city to institute policies that curb smoking. “It’s a social trend and market-rate [housing] is going smoke-free.

In 2017, the city Community Health Survey reported that 15 percent of Queens residents smoke tobacco. The other 85 percent continue to encounter secondhand smoke.

A February report by the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene revealed that 40 percent of New Yorkers say they are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.

In part, Sully said, the new policy was designed to engage more affordable housing providers in considering smoke-free policies.

“Fewer affordable housing [sites] are going smoke free, but [residents] also deserve to breathe clean air,” Sully said.

Landlords must distribute the policy to tenants and condo owners every year and incorporate it into leases and purchase agreements.

NYC Smoke Free reports that tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for nearly 500,000 deaths annually. In New York City, the organization says,12,000 residents die from a smoking-related illnesses every year.

“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and these troubling data show that too many New Yorkers are being exposed to that danger — especially in communities of color,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Exposure to secondhand smoke can put families at higher risk of stroke and other tobacco-related illnesses. We continue to encourage all New Yorkers to adopt smoke-free policies in their homes in order to protect their health and the health of their family.”

Building owners will be required to post the policy in public areas within the building. The measure was enacted on Aug. 28, 2017 and landlords have had a year to prepare.

Landlords and building owners who fail to comply with the law may incur fines of $100.

Sully said the measure will clarify confusion among tenants and help encourage people to quit.

‘This is about neighbors respecting one another,” Sully said. “People who smoke understand the reasons why neighbors don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke.”

“When people do smoke in their apartments, they’re not doing it to annoy neighbors — they’re addicted, she continued. “When have tenant and resident education people move differently.”

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