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Will Bloomberg Ban Smoking at Home?

"Secret documents" suggest that New Yorkers may soon be banned from lighting up in their own apartments.

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Bloomberg butts in, again. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

12/17/12

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Mayor Bloomberg's war on harmful habits may soon invade our homes, leaving many smokers incensed. New “secret documents” obtained by the New York Post suggest that Bloomberg may be moving towards a ban on smoking inside private apartments. According to one of the documents, community groups are being asked to “work with property managers, tenants, and others on adoption of voluntary smoke-free policies by housing entities reaching one to two multi-unit buildings (containing a minimum of 30 units total),” in exchange for a $10,000 bounty from a Centers for Disease Control grant. The documents also solicit “neighborhood contractors” to “support and advance” the city's agenda with regard to tobacco, alcohol, exercise and diet. These contractors would help with “improving community awareness and compliance with existing tobacco-related laws and regulations,” and encourage “voluntary adoption of smoke-free policies to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke." This would not be Bloomberg’s first attack on tobacco, as he spearheaded a city-wide smoking ban in parks and beaches last year.

The leaked documents have left many critics fuming. “They are liars!” says Audrey Silk, founder of the Brooklyn-based Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. “They acclimate the public to a ban, and then they go after the final frontier of our freedom—our homes!” Still, the city insists that those who wish to smoke in their homes have no cause to worry. “The city is not banning smoking in private residences; as part of this federal grant, organizations can apply to fund projects that, among other things, educate the community on voluntary smoke-free housing policies,” says Bloomberg spokesperson Samantha Levine. Yet there are no laws to prevent a landlord from banning smoking, as they only need to change the language of the lease, and the smoker can decide whether or not to resign. And some residents might actually welcome the change: “Then I wouldn’t have smoke complaints, so that would be a good thing,” says Paul Herman, president of the management division at Brown Harris Stevens. “But I don’t know how well New Yorkers would take to being legislated." Home smoking bans in public housing have passed in a few cities already, including Austin and Boston.

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