Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg's Latest Anti-Smoking Idea? Setting Rules in Apartment Buildings

Mayor Mike Bloomberg's latest nanny-state idea actually makes some sense. It calls for apartment buildings to set rules about where and how people can smoke in the buildings. The proposal has to go to the City Council for deliberation.
In his latest salvo in his war on cigarettes, Mayor Bloomberg proposed sweeping legislation Wednesday to curb smoking in residential buildings — by requiring owners to adopt written policies on where butts are banned.

“This does not prohibit anything,” Bloomberg insisted. “It just gives people the right to know before they sign a lease, and it seems to be very popular.”

The law would force owners of buildings with three or more units to inform prospective tenants and buyers if smoking is permitted in flats and courtyards and on balconies and rooftops.

“What is clear is that because of air circulation in buildings if you smoke in one apartment other people in the building do get some of that smoke in their air,” Bloomberg said.

Hizzoner said the city wasn’t trying to ban smoking in people’s homes, but he hopes the law would lead to more smoke-free buildings in the future.

“You’ll have a lot of people in big buildings insisting that the rules change,” the mayor said.
This isn't an outright ban, but it would leave the decision to ban or limit smoking up to the individual apartment buildings. Apartment buildings would face fines for not providing a smoking policy.

It could also spawn additional fees to fumigate/clean apartments left by smokers along the lines of additional fees tacked on to rental cars or leased vehicles that have a smoke smell in them, or for hotel rooms that are supposed to be non-smoking only.

The whole idea is to get people to reduce smoking and exposure to second hand smoke.

This is what Bloomberg is focusing on in the waning years of his administration?

Instead of thinking big and coming up with financing and funding for transit infrastructure to get phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway line done, he's pushing anti-smoking proposals? This is where he's spending his political capital?

Public health is fine and reducing smoking is laudable, but when the city faces ongoing fiscal problems and needs to greatly expand mass transit and come up with a viable and consistent funding for mass transit and its aging infrastructure, focusing on second hand smoke in apartment buildings isn't getting to the problems that the city really faces in coming years.

The percentage of smokers continues declining, and many smokers see their homes as the last refuge for them to maintain their habit as public spaces allowing smoking have shrunk to nonexistence.

There are so many more pressing needs around the City, including fixing the City's troubled 911 system, and he's fumbling around the edges. That's no way to run things.

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