Housing Inequality

Housing Inequality

Smoke-free housing should not be a luxury out of reach. All New Yorkers - including families in public or affordable housing - deserve to breathe smoke-free air that is not laced with toxic nicotine. NYC Smoke-Free is working to expand smoke-free affordable housing to ensure no family or child is forced to endure harmful secondhand smoke pollution in their homes.

Luxury condos, co-ops, and rentals are increasingly going smoke-free, but this positive trend has been slow to reach – and out of reach for – New Yorkers who live in affordable, public, or rent-regulated housing.

Over the last 10 years, NYC Smoke-Free has worked with buildings, landlords and property managers to implement smoke-free protections for over 19,000 apartment units, impacting over 50,000 residents. In 2018, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) implemented the HUD-mandated Smoke-Free Policy, positively impacting over 400,000 NYers living in NYCHA developments. While we have made great strides increasing smoke-free protections for New York City residents, many neighborhoods still lack access to smoke-free housing options. 

While New Yorkers with options are choosing housing with smoke-free protections, the great majority of New Yorkers who are rent-burdened or struggle in the city’s competitive housing market have few options but to stay where they are when their children and families are subjected to dangerous secondhand smoke pollution in their homes. NYC Smoke-Free can help you go smoke-free today – contact your local borough office for guidance, technical assistance and help with signage.

What is Smoke-Free Housing?

Smoke-free housing protects the health of all New Yorkers, saves money for landlords and property owners, and is strongly supported by the public. A 100% smoke-free building is one where smoking is prohibited anywhere on the premises (including within individual apartments and common indoor areas) or a builidng where smoking is restricted to a limited outdoor area.

What is secondhand smoke?

Toxic secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke from the burning of any tobacco product and the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even minimal exposure has been shown to be harmful.


How does secondhand smoke affect me if I don't smoke in my home?

Secondhand smoke in multi-unit dwellings cannot be contained. Cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Air movement from one unit to another in multi-unit dwellings is significant. In some case, up to 65% of air is shared between units. Exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous to all residents' health, especially children and seniors.

What are the benefits of smoke-free housing?

  • Residents can enjoy a healthier home and breathe cleaner, smoke-free air in their apartment and throughout the building.
  • Owners will reduce property damage and turnover costs. They may also be able to save money on insurance by decreasing the chance of fire. Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

How much does it cost to rehabilitate a residential unit of a smoker once the smoker moves out?

On average, it costs six times more for a landlord to rehabilitate a residential unit of a smoker than a non-smoker.  It would cost $3,515 to renovate a smoker's apartment, compared to $560 for a non-smoker's apartment.


Is it legal to go smoke-free?

There are no federal, state, or local laws that prevent apartment owners and managers from adopting smoke-free policies. Such policies do not discriminate against smokers; they simply require people to smoke outdoors, where their secondhand smoke will not drift into neighboring units. The experience of landlords across the country suggests that smoke-free policies are not difficult to implement and are largely self-enforcing.

What is Smoking Disclosure?

Recently, New York City joined several other major cities in requiring landlords to disclose their smoking policies to current and potential tenants. Smoking Disclosure policies give current tenants the informatino they need about where they live and help potential tenants make informed decision about wehre they want to live. Here is more information on smoking disclosure: http://nycsmokefree.org/article/smoking-disclosure


Are there buildngs in New York City that are smoke-free?

The first residential buildings in New York to voluntarily go 100% smoke-free have opened their doors, and many more residences are considering going smoke-free.  A recent poll found that nearly 60% of New York City voters want to live in a building that is smoke-free. Smoke-Free Housing NY lists housing that is smoke-free.


How can I help my building go smoke-free?

If you are a tenant, please refer to the New York Tenants Guide to Smoke-Free Housing.

The Smoke-Free Housing Kit for Landlords and Managing Agents outlines the benefits of going smoke-free and provides steps for developing and implementing a smoke-free policy for your building. It also suggests ways to educate residents and achieve compliance.




New York Tenants Guide to Smoke-Free Housing

New York Landlord Smoke-Free Housing Toolkit

New York Guide to Smoke-Free Housing Cooperatives

How to Make a Condo Complex Smoke-Free

Smoke-Free Housing Kit for Landlords and Managing Agents

CDC Healthy Homes Manual

Making Room to Breathe: A Case Study of Smoke-Free Housing in New York City

Smoke-Free Housing: A Guide for Residents of NYC


VIDEO: Smoke-Free Housing Strategies in NYC

VIDEO: The Case for Smoke-Free Housing


Infographic on The Impact of Secondhand Smoke

Infographic on The Impact of Secondhand Smoke (Espanol)

Infographic on The Impact of Secondhand Smoke (Chinese)

Samples to Use:

Sample Smoke-Free Housing Survey

Doctor's Note for Parents for Neighbors/Building Managers


More Resources:

Smoke-Free NYCHA

HUD Smoke-Free Housing Toolkit

Smoke-Free Housing New York

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


(Photos courtesy of NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)