Smoked Out: City-funded NPO Pushing for Smoking Bans in NYC Rentals

No Smoking in NYC Apartments

New York City has been not so quietly waging a war (quite successfully) against smoking. Mayor Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants during his first term, and since then, others, including real estate management companies, have decided to establish their own bans on smoking. Now, a nonprofit is reaching out to landlords and tenants, encouraging them to ban smoking in their rental buildings.

This move to ban smoking in rental buildings is not the first. Over the summer, we reported that Related Companies decided to ban smoking in all 40,000 units that it owns or manages. What is new, however, is the city-funded nonprofit called Partnership for a Healthier New York attempting to ban smoking in rentals, building by building.

Partnership for a Healthier New York’s strategy is to send their contractors to have conversations with the landlords and tenants about the various risks and harms connected with tobacco use and exposure.

The process isn’t always immediate, partnership director Earl Brown told the Post. Sometimes there are “many meetings over a period of time.”

Instead of a city ban, this allows for the public to make their own decisions on whether or not they want smoking allowed in their building. After the meetings, a majority vote is held, though the landlord has the final say. According to city law, a landlord is allowed to ban smoking by adding a simple clause in the lease when it has expired. Tenants have the option to agree to the terms or find a new place to live.

Some New York City renters aren’t too pleased with the non-profit’s endeavor, claiming discrimination and going as far as comparing it to a modern-day Prohibition.

The founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, Audrey Silk, told the Post, “This is about educating the public about a discriminatory act, with the lie that it’s possible that someone smoking in their own apartment can cause harm to somebody in another apartment.”