August deadline looming for landlords to set smoking policies

Public Health Solutions, a city agency created to compile research on health-based initiatives, has focused its smoke-free efforts almost exclusively on the housing sector since 2009 after cigarettes had been driven from most of New York’s commercial and public buildings.

As it stands, it’s illegal to smoke in the common areas of buildings with 10-units or more in New York City but for smaller buildings and within individual apartments, smoking is OK unless expressly prohibited. This is a problem, Deidre Sully, PHS’ NYC Smoke-Free Director explained, because more than 60 percent of air in a building is shared, particularly in new structures with advanced HVAC systems.

“In New York, we live vertically, with homes stacked on top of one another,” said Sully. “It’s not spread out like in suburban America, so we have to be mindful of our airspace and how it can impact our health.”

Sully hopes the city’s new policy and disclosure requirements will close the “loophole” that allows smoking to continue to taking place in buildings.

However, last year Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Local Law 147, forcing New Holland and every other landlord to reflect on its tobacco views. Siegel said the conclusion was obvious: smoke-free is the way to be. Principles aside, it’s what the tenants want.

“People are more concerned about health matters these days and they know that cigarettes run contrary to every aspect of living a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “It’s no longer associated with being glamorous or cool.”

Passed last August, Local Law 147 requires all owners of Class A multiple dwelling properties, buildings with three or more apartments, to have a smoking policy and disclose it to residents by the end of August.

Applied to rentals, condos and co-ops, the law requires that residents be notified when the policy is created or when they move in and reminded annually. The law goes into full effect on August 28, with non-compliant owners facing fines ranging up to $2,000.

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