We all want to live in healthy homes. We install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, remove asbestos and use lead-free paint to reduce risk and protect health. We have lived in our Bay Terrace, Queens apartment for over 20 years, and our building has done everything it can to prevent injuries and reduce health risks. If we considered moving to another apartment building, we would want to know everything we could about our new home before we moved in, especially its smoking policy.
We have a right to know a building’s smoking policy if we care about our health. Secondhand smoke cannot be contained, and there is no safe level of exposure. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home have an increased risk of asthma and respiratory infections. Seniors are at particular risk. In addition to serving as a heart attack trigger, secondhand smoke can trigger or worsen a range of pre-existing health conditions.
At this point in our lives we would not consider moving to a building that allows smoking. And we’re not alone. Fifty-nine percent of New Yorkers support smoke-free housing.
Fortunately, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed legislation that would require landlords of multi-unit buildings to make their smoking policy known to current and future tenants and buyers. The proposed policy will not require landlords or owners to change their policy. It will merely require that they disclose it.
Given the number of New Yorkers who support smoke-free housing, I urge every property manager, co-op and condo board to have their buildings go smoke-free. A smoke-free multiple-unit building means higher property values and lower property costs. We have a right to know if our new home allows pets, outdoor grilling and subletting. We should certainly have a right to know if smoking is allowed in a building to protect our health and property.