Health Department Launches Media Campaign on Dangers of Secondhand Smoke at Home

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke

Legislation introduced by Council Member Ritchie Torres on Tuesday requires all residential buildings to create a policy on smoking and disclose it to current and prospective residents

April 27, 2017 — The Health Department today launched a new media campaign educating New Yorkers on the dangers of secondhand smoke at home and encouraging them to make their home smoke-free. Secondhand smoke can enter apartments or common areas through shared ventilation systems, air spaces, windows and hallways. The media campaign follows Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement last week about a series of legislative proposals to help reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 over the next three years. One of the bills, introduced on Tuesday by Council Member Ritchie Torres, requires owners of residential buildings to create a policy on smoking and disclose it to both current and prospective residents. Approximately 35 percent of New Yorkers report smelling smoke in their home coming from another apartment or outside. Adult non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke have higher risks of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have higher risks of asthma attacks, respiratory illnesses, middle ear disease and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The media campaign will run through May 21 on bus shelters, in newspapers, on the Staten Island Ferry and on television. The video version of the campaign is available here.

smoke-free housing

“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “If your neighbor smokes, the smoke can enter your apartment and put you and your family at higher risk of tobacco-related illnesses like heart disease and cancer. I encourage New Yorkers to make their homes smoke-free.”

The legislative proposals announced last week by Mayor de Blasio include protections against the health effects of secondhand smoke. Council Member Torres’ bill will require owners of residential buildings to create a policy on smoking and disclose it to both current and prospective residents. Buildings will not be required to adopt complete no-smoking policies.

Disclosing a building’s smoking policy will help tenants to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to live in a building. This information is particularly important for parents with young children and for others, such as older adults, who may spend more time at home and, consequently, may have higher exposures to secondhand smoke. Smoke-free housing also helps smokers to smoke less, and it may even help them quit. In addition to overall health improvements, smoke-free policies can reduce the risk of fires caused by cigarettes and lower the cleaning costs of homes.

This media campaign is aligned with the recent smoke-free rule passed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which will require public housing authorities nationwide, including the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), to adopt smoke-free policies.

"By making clear what a building's smoking policy is, potential tenants and current residents can be better informed about their living conditions, environment and health impact. Residents deserve to live in clean, smoke-free buildings, if they wish, and a disclosure policy can bring transparency that'll help residents make informed decisions," said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.

smoke-free housing crib

“We applaud and thank the New York City Health Department for this exciting new educational campaign for smoke-free housing,” said Patrick Kwan, Director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions. “For years, we’ve partnered with the Health Department to protect families and children from the dangers of secondhand smoke in apartment buildings by increasing and expanding access to smoke-free housing. NYC Smoke-Free has helped implement smoke-free protections for over 12,000 apartments, benefiting more than 32,000 residents. This important media campaign will no doubt help even more New Yorkers breathe easier by raising awareness of all the tools and resources available to eliminate tobacco pollution in more homes.”

“North Shore Towers and Country Club is proud to be on the forefront of healthy living!” said Board Member Phyllis Goldstein. “We are a complex of three 33-floor towers on 110 acres in eastern Queens. As of January 1, the amendment to the proprietary lease banning smoking in all interiors of the buildings, including apartments, balconies, terraces and common areas went into effect. The community wanted it, voted for it, and they are now reaping the benefits of clean air! Thank you Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for prioritizing smoke-free housing.”

What can New Yorkers do?

  • Let your landlord or managing agent know you support going 100 percent smoke-free in your building.
  • If you are a tenant, do not smoke or allow visitors to smoke in your home.
  • If you are exposed to secondhand smoke in your building from other tenants, document the problem and speak to your owner or managing agent and neighbor. Consider a friendly, constructive approach and try to suggest solutions.

If you smoke and want to quit, call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit for help. For more information on smoke-free housing, search “smoke-free housing” on This media campaign is made possible with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle, (347) 396-4177