"Dealing With Secondhand Tobacco Smoke"

Given recent conclusive scientific evidence of the serious health hazards associated with second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes, especially for children, co-op and condominium boards are increasingly looking into how to keep their buildings smoke-free.  While New York City and State have banned smoking in all public areas, we are only aware of one co-op board that imposed a ban on smoking within apartments in 2002, and then only on new owners.  While the ban was quickly rescinded, we believe that in 2006, in light of irrefutable evidence of second-hand smoke health hazards, there are no legal obstacles to prohibiting smoking in co-op or condominium buildings. Lodging giant Marriott recently banned smoking, effective September 2006, in its over 2,300 hotels in the United States and Canada, some 400,000 rooms. Starwood Hotels has banned smoking in its 77 upscale Westin brand hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

This column discusses the vulnerability of apartment occupants to second-hand smoke, recent case law recognizing a landlord’s duty to prevent smoke from penetrating into an apartment, and recommends policies that boards can implement to restrict smoking in their buildings.

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