In a move that could increase the number of smoke-free buildings in the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled on Wednesday a new bill requiring residential buildings to adopt written smoking policies.
The mayor's proposal would require apartment buildings to develop policies addressing whether smoking is permitted in indoor and outdoor locations including lobbies, balconies, courtyards, laundry rooms and even individual apartments.
The bill would not specifically dictate whether buildings should or should not allow smoking.
"Seems to be something that a lot of people want. It’s not regulating whether what the rules are in a building, but before you rent an apartment you would know whether or not other people in a building are smoking," said Bloomberg.
City officials said the bill is responding to New Yorkers' complaints.
"Fifty percent of non-smoking New Yorkers say right now they're being exposed to second-hand smoke in their apartments and about 2,000 of them have contacted 311 in just the last year complaining about that," said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city health commissioner.
Brooklyn Councilman Eric Dilan, who introduced the bill on the mayor's behalf, admitted he had not read it yet, but said he does not want it to go too far.
"I'm not a smoker, so I'm not certainly advocating for anybody, but I think the owners have a right now to set their own policy without government telling them what to do," Dilan said.
The bill has raised a red flag with owners' advocates.
"The only way it can be enforced is for the owner to take the tenant to court and say they're violating their lease. They're violating the policy of the building. Obviously that's a very costly endeavor," said Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association.
The bill has already gotten support from several anti-smoking groups, including the American Cancer Society. Even some smokers told NY1 they are open to the idea.
"Yeah, why not? I mean, you got to be considerate to the non-smokers," said one New Yorker who smokes.
Other locals said the bill potentially violates their personal rights.
"It's an individual's apartment and they have a right to privacy. I don't think they actually have a right to know what's going on in the apartment unless it's illegal and smoking's not illegal," said a New Yorker.
This is the latest move by Bloomberg to cut down smoking in the city.
In 2003, he backed a move to ban smoking in bars and restaurants which the mayor says may be one of his greatest accomplishments.