Suffolk County proposes law to protect apartment residents from secondhand smoke
Suffolk County is proposing a law that would snuff out secondhand smoke in apartment complexes and condominiums.
Smoking is already banned near schools and office buildings, but there are no smoke-free laws for apartment buildings.
That worries people like Paulette Orlando, from the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island. She says the secondhand smoke "Permeates through cracks in the wall's electrical lines, plumbing and ventilation systems."
Orlando says more than 3,000 non-smokers in New York die from heart disease and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke each year.
There are two proposed laws to reduce secondhand smoking in Suffolk County. One is an absolute ban on all smoking and the other limits smoking in areas like balconies and patios where smoke can enter through common ventilation.
One Suffolk County legislator says he agrees with reducing secondhand smoke but he says he has concerns about those suffering from addiction who may have limited mobility.
Dr. William Spencer is a physician and Suffolk legislator for the 18th District. He says he understands the dangers of secondhand smoke, but that it's also their choice.
"I don't want to penalize people who own their own home and can't smoke outside," said Spencer.
Orlando argues, "What about that person who is disabled in a wheelchair who wants to breathe clean fresh air?"
The proposal will go to Suffolk's Health Committee at the end of February, then it will be up for a vote before the full legislature in March.