City councilman looks to ban smoking in new affordable housing

cigarette smoking man

No affordable housing for you

Finding yourself excited about Mayor Tall’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing? It’s only natural to feel that way, you’ve got time to look up at the end of his four or eight years with cynicism and bitterness. Well, unless you’re a smoker that it, then you can start being angry immediately, because a member of the City Council wants to make any new affordable housing built in the city smoke-free units. So much for celebrating winning the affordable housing lottery with the smooth, doctor-approved tobacco of Fancy Lad Cigarettes.

Councilman Donovan Richards talked with Capital New York about his idea for the bill to make all new affordable housing units smoke-free, couching it in terms of protecting children and the elderly from second-hand smoke. Which is fair, children and the elderly do deserve to live, although we’d question whether or not they’d live happier lives if they celebrated more often with the mood altering power of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Of course, beyond the problems that exist in trying to enforce something like this, there are other logistical problems as well. Would a whole building that has affordable units have to be smoke free? And if not, doesn’t that make for an awkward setup? Could you still smoke pot and meth and crack in your affordable housing unit, seeing as how those are awesome and aren’t linked to problems of secondhand smoke or really problems of any kind at all? If you just decide to pay a fine every time because you can afford it on top of your rent, would eventual eviction wind up on the table?

As much as we hate to take the side of the insane person in Capital’s comments section who thinks a picture of Obama with a Hitler haircut is a way to get people to agree with you, this proposal doesn’t get the Brokelyn seal of approval. Which as you all know, is very important in the matter of City Council politics.

One Comment

  • I am thrilled to see a City Councilmember step forward with the progressive and logical vision to make new affordable multiple housing units smokefree developments. In the very near future, the 142 unit affordable housing Macedonia Plaza in downtown Flushing (Queens) NY will begin occupancy. I understand there was no shortage of applications during the lottery period knowing this was a smokefree premises. In fact, that probably increased the number of applications submitted. The attractive amenity of a smokefree environment is rare at this point, let alone in an area where smoking is still very common.

    Last week, the local community board in Flushing passed a health committee resolution encouraging that new multiple housing units being built become smokefree premises. This follows a similar resolution passed by a Staten Island community board last year.

    If Councilmember Richards introduces a City Council bill stipulating that new affordable multiple housing units be built as smokefree units (actually, shouldn’t market rate residents also have the same health and safety opportunity of a smokefree environment?) I am confident that there would be many co-sponsors to such a bill.

    I am glad that Mayor Bloomberg’s public health legacy regarding smoking is continuing. Only time will tell.