Will Complete Smoking Bans Catch on for Condos and Co-ops? Making Sense of the Newest Smoking Bans

In post-Bloomberg New York City, the war on smoking in the name of public health trudges on, and this time it’s coming from the federal government. In November, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will be extending a smoking ban to over 940,000 public housing units across the country, including those in New York City.

While the ban only extends to federal housing, condos and co-ops are plenty familiar with smoking-related controversies, and buildings are starting to wonder whether they will follow suit, and if they should.

Smoking rules have made for passionate debate over the years. On one side you have neighbors who can’t stand the smoke that wafts into their units, and the smokers themselves, who consider their own home to be the only space left for harassment-free smoking.

Boards usually would love more than anything to stay out of the fight altogether. “Boards don’t want to have to police their residents, and I’ve not personally encountered any buildings that have banned smoking outright,” said  Martin S. Kera, a partner with the law firm of Kera & Graubard in Manhattan.

A no-smoking rule can also lead to what you see in front of office buildings, with people smoking out front, and littering their butts around the entrance to the building, even when receptacles are placed strategically nearby.


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  • " On one side you have neighbors who can’t stand the smoke that wafts into their units ..." Well, that assumes that smoke from one apartment wafts into neighboring apartments and in all cases, in which case you've got a building problem not a smoking problem. Of course, the magic there is that if you know your neighbor smokes you're going to smell it, and if he doesn't smoke but tells you that he does you're going to smell it as well. Because there are some people who need to see a head shrinker rather than complain to the building manager. And how about noise and ethnic cooking - do those antagonize the neighbors as well? Because if not, then we're talking about a phantom menace which, once it gets into a neighbor's head, swims around in there and gives a man no peace until the "menace" is slain. Bottom line: if there really is a problem then let it be documented. And, please, stop harassing your neighbors by taking away his freedom in his own home when no problem can be shown to exist. After all, this is America, not the People's Republic. But we're getting there.
  • " I’ve not personally encountered any buildings that have banned smoking outright,” said Martin S. Kera, a partner with the law firm of Kera & Graubard in Manhattan." If he reads the article he will find "In 2013, the 647-unit Zeckendorf Towers became the largest residential property in New York City and the nation, to go smoke-free. In a landmark vote, a record 83.5% of the condo unit owners voted in favor of the amendment to prohibit smoking in the common areas and in residential units. Existing residents were grandfathered in."
  • Smoking is preserving the mind from utter vacuity. I look forward to a complete ban
  • While Charles' comments might be true in some cases, I am a condo resident that smelled smoke coming into my Master bedroom every evening from around 8:30-10:30. Just to make sure I wasn't "needing to see a shrink", I asked the manager if the people in any adjoining condo smoked? The answer was yes, the woman above me smokes. Noise and ethnic cooking smells are not known carcinogens. If second-hand smoke is not a health hazard to the non-smoker, why is smoking banned in airports and most public buildings in the US? Although people own their condo starting with the "paint on their walls", all the condos are located together in a single "public" building. Non-smoking condo buildings should become the norm. Smokers can still purchase a condo, if they agree to smoke outside away from the building 360 days of the year. If this is too much of an inconvenience, then perhaps they should purchase a detached home, where they can smoke inside and negatively impact the resale value of that home to their hearts content.