Held hostage by smokers or New York City?

“Second hand smoke; Is it all in your mind?”:

“Elise, I believe I can help you regarding your problem with being exposed to smoke while out walking. A great deal of that problem has been created by Antismokers passing laws that forbid people who smoke from gathering inside in comfortable surrounding to eat, drink, and have fun with other people who smoke and their friends.

If you would join a smokers’ rights group and work to repeal the smoking bans perhaps we’ll be able to remove some of the smoke from the sidewalks and also encourage people in your housing development to go out and smoke more at bars and restaurants so it won’t be so much in your building.

And since most restaurant customers don’t smoke there’ll always be lots of nonsmoking restaurants for you to go to as well.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains” “

I wrote this post in December 2007, I think it answers Mr. McFaddens hostage post.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

When the city moved the smokers out of the bar nonsmokers lost their rights

A bald man with a white poodle sits on the stairs of a New York City apartment drinking a beer and enjoying a cigarette.

He doesn’t have a bar to go to, so he makes his own.

Sooner or a later a neighbor has a problem with this scenario. Smoke is all in her apartment. She complains to the landlord, building owner, rental agent. They say they can do nothing.

She keeps researching. She finds the New York City Smoke Free complaint online form. She fills it out. She doesn’t get a response. A few days later with no response she fills out another one. By weekend she has filled out three online forms and received no response.

She does some more online research. She tries 311. They tell her that they can’t help her with residential smoking. She insists that they can and she quotes a newspaper article from 15 years ago to them. They say no. So she asks which department handles smoking. She asks if she can complain about that department’s failure to respond to her online forms.

About two weeks later she receives a phone call from the Tobacco Unit. It promises little help but takes up over 30 minutes of her time. They ask her to spend even more time to call 311 and persist to the supervisor level.

Yeah, can you believe it, they want her to do all this work. She essentially is doing 311 and Tobacco Unit’s work by debugging their 311 and online form responses. And what does she get in return?

About seven months later after over 100 online and 311 complaints, paper signs to call 311 for smoking are scotch taped on the walls of the building, one per floor. However, the signs are not obeyed.

She even writes the Fire Department, the Environment Department and the Buildings Department about the lack of a “no smoking” sign in the elevator. And after three months there is still no “no smoking” sign in the elevator of that coop building. On 12/3/07 the elevator is signed off as inspected and passed without a “no smoking” sign. The very broken elevator that flushes the cigarette smoke through the building and is so loud that the locksmith asked “are you sure that elevator isn’t doing the breaking in, that is loud!” She says to him that’s the least of this place.

Over the holidays every inch of her apartment has been like a live cigarette smoke and she has told the managing director. The last eight days she has been sick with tobacco poisoning and has lost her temporary job. She has no insurance. She now keeps the window up. Does she have to choose between pneumonia and someone climbing in off the street over tobacco poisoning? She writes an email to her managing director. She gets no response. She has no one to call because in New York City if the cigarette smoking happens inside your apartment it is not regulated by New York City.

She has from the beginning done all the caulking, filling of holes, weather-stripping door, air cleaners, to no avail. She is now throwing up her guts all the time; she can’t keep anything down and has fever. She is spitting up blood. All of the responsible parties had seven months to correct the situation. They stood by and did nothing. This lady has pulmonary and lung disease. She told her broker before the deal about this fact. She has informed her landlord, building manager and agent of this condition since May of 2007. It is a federal housing violation of human rights to discriminate against the handicapped. As a person with this condition she has a handicap. She tells 311 this. They say she has to get her landlord to take care of it or take them to court. The city doesn’t handle smoking in residential housing.

The landlord has stated to tenant that there is nothing she can do. If she wants to move out she has to give 30 days’ notice.

So sayeth the landlord and the City:

Reality is the woman can move out immediately as a constructive eviction. When the landlord comes around for the rent (or if the lady just wants to dash off a note of notice before moving) and subsequently sues for it, the lady can countersue because the apartment was not habitable. She can also sue for all of her rent back for the beginning of the time of the problem. It seems the easiest way to get back the broker’s fee, the $950+locks and gates, and the deposit back.

Problem is there are no worthwhile apartments on the market. Also why should she have to move? What did she do?

The second legal move is the best. Sue the City, the landlord, the building owner, the broker for negligence, long suffering in a forced eviction, a federal human rights violation.

Because when it comes to push and shove really didn’t Mr. Bloomberg just shove the smoker from the bar back to their neighbor’s home?

For Mr. Bloomberg this all works out just dandy. He can go to the bar and have his drink smoke free. He goes home to his townhouse where he shares no walls with smokers.

But what about the rest of us, where do we stand in the muck of lies that New York City bestows as its Presidential Mantra.

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