RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Is one suburban county going too far trying to legislate what residents can and cannot do in the privacy of their own homes?
Hoping to be the most progressive county in the state, Suffolk County is proposing a law that would snuff out secondhand smoke in apartment complexes, condominiums, and multi-family dwellings, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.
Smoking is already banned in many public places, and near schools and office buildings, but there are no smoke-free laws for apartment buildings, condos, and two-family homes.
“Let me be clear, any legislation that there is a vote required that would have an impact on preventing the public or innocent people who have made a choice not to smoke, from being exposed to smoke, I will support that legislation,” Suffolk Legislator Dr. William Spencer said.
Spencer, who is also a medical doctor, said secondhand smoke can permeate through cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.
Statistics show more than 3,000 non-smokers in New York die each year from heart disease and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.
There are two proposed laws to reduce secondhand smoke in Suffolk County.
Legislator Sam Gonzalez is sponsoring the bill banning all smoking in apartments, condos, and multi-family homes.
When asked if the proposed legislation is going to far, Gonzalez said, “It’s not going too far. We’re heading in that direction anyway. We can’t smoke in restaurants. We can’t smoke in buildings. We can’t smoke inside the theaters. There are parks, there are beaches that you can’t smoke in. We are headed there.”
The proposed legislation has Suffolk residents buzzing.
“It’s impossible to enforce,” one person said.
“If they want to smoke in their apartment, I think it’s totally fine,” another person said.
“You should have the discretion, obviously, to smoke on your own property,” another added.
There has already been push-back, with many wondering if an apartment dweller could actually get kicked out, all in the name of good health.
“When I get the push-back from individuals that say, ‘No, you can’t stop me from smoking,’ I say ‘Why not?’” Gonzalez said.
The lawmaker added offenders could be fined up to $1,000 or even arrested, and that enforcement will be complaint driven.
Public hearings later this month are expected to be heated. Legislators said they expect amendments and modifications before the Health Committee considers the proposal.