Now you can know before you move if second-hand smoke might be a problem in the building

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October 23, 2019

New York City enacted a new law about a year ago requiring apartment buildings with more than three units to create smoking policies, explicitly posting whether they’re smoke-free or not. 

Despite this law passing, and the near ubiquity of nicotine vapes across the city, many new Yorkers are still complaining about neighbors smoking in buildings. According to a new analysis by home search platform Localize.city. residents logged over 1,800 such complaints during the past 12 months ending in August 2019.

Localize.city’s data science team created a predictive model to alert house hunters about smoking issues by looking at the frequency of complaints over a two-year time frame, as well as how many complaints are logged each day (to account for possible outliers in which there might be one day with multiple complaints). So when you search for a home at Localize.city you can see if a prospective building has smoking issues. You can also go there to check smoking complaints at your current (or any NYC) address.

A single Brooklyn address accounted for close to 7% of last year’s complaints. 270 Pulaski St. in Bed-Stuy was the building with the most smoking complaints in the city with 123 complaints in the last year. 595 W. 207th St. in Inwood had the third highest number of smoking-related complaints in the city, and the complaints are likely to continue. There was a recent one-bedroom for rent in the building, asking $1,750 a month, according to Streeteasy. But only Localize.city flagged this possible problem. An address check of 595 W. 207th St. on the Localize site also revealed complaints about water supply, mold, leaks, cleaning, and unsafe window guards.

“We no longer live in Don Draper’s New York and it’s clear 21st Century New Yorkers do not enjoy smelling their neighbors cigarettes at home,” said Daniel Murphy, an Urban Planner at Localize.city. “If you’re a buyer or renter, you now have a right to know what the smoking policy of a building is before you move in. That said, enforcement of such policies might be questionable. So that’s where Localize.city steps in. We tell you when there have been smoking-related complaints in particular buildings and whether the issue is expected to be a recurring problem. Armed with that knowledge, asthmatic New Yorkers, or really anybody who hates the scent of stale smoke, can finally avoid the city’s problem buildings with ease.”

The number of smokers across the country continues to drop. An estimated 14 percent of adults across the country — or 34.3 million people — smoked cigarettes in 2017, according to the most recently available data from the Centers for Disease Control. That was down 15.5 percent from the year before. 

Smoking complaints by the numbers…


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