Though banning cigarette smoking in apartment building common areas is nothing new, New York City’s co-op and condo buildings have been voting to keep residents from lighting up even inside their own units, the Wall Street Journal reports. Co-op and condo lawyers say the sentiment in favor of clean, green air is growing, and tolerance for neighbors who smoke is at an all-time low. At the Century condominium at 25 Central Park West, a smoking ban went into effect in March after a two-thirds vote was achieved following a long–sometimes bitter–campaign.
The move towards banning smoking in owners’ units–in most cases longtime owners would be grandfathered into an exception to the ban, and rent stabilized renters would not be subject to it–was buoyed by a new citywide law that will go into effect in August that requires all apartment buildings with three or more units to adopt a smoking policy. The law doesn’t mandate a ban, just a stance, which caused many buildings to revisit the issue.
The New York City Health Department is in favor of the new law, especially after a finding that in 2016, 49 percent of adult New York City apartment residents reported smelling smoke coming from other units or the street while inside their homes. According to a 2016 survey, the percentage of New York City residents who smoke declined from 16.2 percent in 2011 to 11.5 percent. The New York City Housing Authority–the city’s biggest landlord–is scheduled to put a smoking ban in place at the end of July as part of a federal rule change.
As far as action that could be taken against offenders after an in-unit ban is in place, condo boards generally can impose fines or seek a court-ordered injunction against the owner in question. Co-op boards can actually cancel the lease permitting the offending shareholder to live in the unit and evict them.
Many residents feel that, at very least, a complete smoking ban is a step toward reducing the animosity that can arise when a non-smoker’s neighbor smokes. Clifford Eisler, board president at the aforementioned Century says he expects there won’t be much action taken againts people who smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes or pot in their apartments as long as there aren’t complaints. “If someone is smoking in their apartment and no one notices, it is kind of like a tree falling in the woods.”
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