Anti-smoking police are set to patrol New York neighbourhoods and stop people smoking in their own homes, secret new documents reveal. Community groups will be sent out to convince landlords and tenants across the city to turn their private buildings into smoke-free zones, according to the documents seen by the New York Post
The community groups would 'work with property managers, tenants, and others on adoption of voluntary smoke-free policies', the document says. In return for their work, each community group will collect a $10,000 bounty - paid for out of a Centers for Disease Control grant.
The news comes one year after the city banned smoking in parks and beaches, despite promises by Mayor Bloomberg that there were no plans to extend a ban to apartment buildings. The document explains how neighbourhood contractors would help develop New York health department's agenda in tobacco, alcohol, exercise and diet.
Contractors would improve community awareness and promote 'voluntary adoption of smoke-free policies to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke'.
Critics called the plan an affront to personal freedom and suspect that it has long been in the pipeline and waited for the public to get used to the public smoking ban before introducing one in homes.
City politicians denied there was any such plan.
Bloomberg spokesperson Samantha Levine said: 'The city is not banning smoking in private residences; as part of this federal grant, organizations can apply to fund projects that, among other things, educate the community on voluntary smoke-free housing policies.
Landlords interested in introducing a smoking ban need only change the wording on the lease once it comes up for renewal. Tenants would then have the choice of signing the new lease and accepting the terms or moving on.
There are no laws prohibiting a landlord from banning smoking, according to real-estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey. Landlords need only change the language of the lease, and once it's time to renew, the smoker can decide to move or stay.
Landlord owners of condominiums would need a 66 per cent majority vote among their tenants in favour of a ban in order to implement it.
Most restaurants in the city outlawed smoking in 1995, followed by bars and bar areas of restaurants in 2002.
The document reveals that although the number of smokers in the city has dropped, 850,000 adults and about 18,000 high school students still smoke.