Condos, Co-Ops To Vote On Smoking Bans

Many New York City smokers may feel like the only place they can legally light up these days is at home--or at least, it used to be.

At least half a dozen Manhattan co-ops are expected to ask shareholders during annual meetings this spring to vote on an all-out smoking ban that would prohibit residents from lighting up in their own homes, real estate attorneys say.

Another dozen co-op or condo buildings are considering such a vote.

The Journal notes that, in New York, it's already illegal to smoke in public areas at any building with more than nine apartments.

Attorneys told the paper that some buildings are seeking bans because of fears that residents will sue each other over smoking disputes.

In February, a New York District Court judge ruled that an Upper East Side woman could break her lease -- with two months' free rent -- because her landlord ignored her complaints about second-hand smoke in her apartment.

Crain's reports that the case is likely to encourage other renters to use second-hand smoke as an excuse to avoid rent payments. That could make landlords hesitant to lease apartments to smokers.

Last month, the City Council voted to ban smoking in parks, beaches and other public spaces like Times Square.

An ordinance prohibiting smoking in the city's bars and restaurants went into effect in 2003.