NYC Mayor considers bill that could ban smoking inside apartment buildings

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday plans to propose legislation that would require residential buildings to adopt written policies on where smoking is permitted or prohibited and disclose those rules to prospective tenants and owners, a move that officials predict could increase the number of smoke-free apartment buildings in New York City.

"We think that people ought to know whether they might be exposed to second-hand smoke in their apartment before they decide whether to rent or buy," said Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "We know that second-smoke can go from one apartment to the other and that it can get at levels that are high enough to have health risks."

The proposal marks the latest effort by Bloomberg to combat tobacco use in the city and around the globe.

The bill specifically does not dictate whether buildings should allow or disallow smoking. But it would require buildings to develop policies that address whether smoking is permitted in both indoor and outdoor locations, including lobbies, balconies, courtyards, laundry rooms and, most controversially, individual apartments.

A recent telephone survey commissioned by the city and conducted by Global Strategies Group found New Yorkers favor, by 64 percent to 30 percent, a law of this kind, officials said. The poll showed a majority of smokers, 51 percent, opposed the idea; nonsmokers favored it by 68 percent to 27 percent.

The penalty for violating the disclosure law would be $100 per violation. Buildings would be responsible for their own enforcement.

Roughly half of New York City adults living in multi-unit dwellings have reported they have been exposed to secondhand smoke from neighboring apartments, officials said.

Click here to read more on this story from The Wall Street Journal.