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. NYC Smoke-Free is working to expand smoke-free affordable housing to ensure no family or child is exposed to harmful secondhand smoke in their homes.

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

Over the last 10 years, NYC Smoke-Free has worked with building owners, 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. 

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 is strongly supported by the public, and saves money for landlords and property owners. There are two types of 100% smoke-free buildings, one where smoking is prohibited anywhere on the premises, individual apartments, and common indoor areas; or a building where smoking is restricted to a limited outdoor area.

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is toxic, it 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. 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 hazard of secondhand smoke. Air movement from one unit to another in multi-unit dwellings is significant. Up to 65% of air is shared between units in some cases. 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?

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 information they need about where they live and help potential tenants make informed decision about where 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.

Resources

Smoke-Free Housing: A Guide for Residents of NYC

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NYC Smoke-Free Housing Tool Kit for Landlords and Managing Agents

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Smoke-Free Housing in New York

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Smoking Disclosure (Local Law 147)

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No Menthol Sundays

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The Asian Smokers’ Quitline

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