The bill would apply to buildings with three or more apartments, and violators would be fined $100 for breaking the rules that have been established by individual property owners. Bloomberg’s bill requires building owners to inform prospective tenants and purchasers about where smoking is allowed.
While the bill does not specify how the policies will be enforced, Donna Shelley, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and former director of the tobacco control program at the New York City Department of Health, said these types of policies are self-enforcing.
“In this case, it’s really going to depend on the neighbors in the building wanting to enforce the policy itself by asking their neighbors to stop or notifying whoever the authorities are,” Shelley said. “Self-enforcement works better than expecting the city to be monitoring the situation on a regular basis because they can’t really be there all the time.”
Though this has not been officially proposed in the city, Shelley said many localities outside of New York City have already put in such regulations.
John Sirabella, the New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City communications manager, said the coalition and its partners in other boroughs plan to spread the word about the benefits of smoke-free housing.
“We believe that every New Yorker has the right to breathe smoke free air in where they live, work and play,” Sirabella said.
However, Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, said she disagrees with the bill. Though Bloomberg is not banning smoking in residential areas, she said she thinks this is just one of the steps the mayor will take to do so.
“It’s not so much about smoking but government intruding this way in our own four walls,” Silk said. “We will have an effort to instruct tenants to start complaining about anything.”
Maria Gonzalez, an SCPS graduate student who owns an apartment in New York City, agrees that people should be allowed to smoke in their own homes.
“I generally support most other initiatives passed so far because you shouldn’t smoke in public buildings and community spaces,” Gonzalez added.
Regarding NYU students, though the law is new, according to NYU spokesman Philip Lentz the university policy already bans smoking in all student residences and academic buildings.
“We are looking at the possible ramifications of the mayor’s proposal,” Lentz said. “However, it would be premature to make any conclusions until legislation is enacted into law.”
Bloomberg’s proposed bill will go to the appropriate committee of the New York City Council for review.