Suffolk County appears to be formalizing the policy that many Co-ops our firm represents already have–to eliminate smoking in the common areas. In fact, many Co-ops our firm represents have taken it one step further in that they have actually banned smoking inside the apartments as well by virtue of an amendment to their proprietary lease which was adopted by the shareholders. The Nassau County Legislature has already adopted the policy of prohibiting smoking in public areas of indoor facilities and indoor areas used by the public, including common areas of multiple dwellings.
On November 17, 2015, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved legislation to amend Chapter 754 of the Suffolk County Code regarding Smoking. The legislation applies to “multiple dwelling buildings,” which include any property containing ten (10) or more dwelling units, such as apartment buildings, condominium complexes, senior and assisted living facilities and long-term health care facilities. Section 4 of New York’s Multiple Residence Law defines a “Multiple dwelling” as a “dwelling which is either rented, leased, let or hired out, to be occupied, or is occupied as the temporary or permanent residence or home of three or more families living independently of each other…” It also includes “a dwelling, two or more stories in height, and with five or more boarders, roomers or lodgers residing with any one family.”
Specifically, the legislation prohibits smoking in all indoor and outdoor common areas of multiple dwelling buildings and within a fifty-foot radius of all entrances, exits and ventilation intakes to a building. “Common areas” are defined as every enclosed or unenclosed area of a multiple dwelling building that residents of more than one unit are entitled to enter or use, including but not limited to, halls, pathways, lobbies, courtyards, elevators, stairs, community rooms, playgrounds, gym facilities, swimming pools, parking garages, parking lots, grassy or landscaped areas, restrooms, laundry rooms, cooking area, eating areas and meeting rooms. Residents would continue to be allowed to smoke in their own units as long as it was not prohibited by the governing documents of the community. Violators could be fined up to Two Hundred and Fifty ($250) Dollars for each violation, and repeat offenders could face up to One Thousand ($1,000) Dollars in fines and/or six months in jail. The law was recommended as a result of the risks of second hand smoke. In fact, the resolution adopting the local law stated “This Legislature also finds that pursuant to a 2006 report, the United States Surgeon General has determined that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke.” They also cited the “enormous costs associated with treating diseases caused by smoking.”
While the legislature has approved the legislation, it must still be approved by the Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone after a hearing. It is expected to be approved. The hearing, which is open to the public, is scheduled to occur on Monday, November 30, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. in the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge, New York. If the law is approved, Boards should make sure their House Rules are conformed to be consistent with the new law. The new law would become effective one hundred and twenty (120) days after it has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State.