• Hoboken Building Bans Smoking: A History of Smoking Bans Locally + Statewide

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    A new trend has been becoming more and more popular throughout the Mile Square and as fate would have it, it’s actually positive for your health. Building-wide smoking bans have recently become a thing, prompting Hoboken Girl to take a deep-dive into Hoboken’s history with building-wide smoking bans.

    Hoboken Girl reader Victoria Shparber wrote in via email to let us know her building at 2 South Constitution Court – Shipyard had enacted a building-wide smoking ban this year.

    “Like most buildings in Hoboken, smoking was not allowed in common areas like hallways, the lobby, and outdoor spaces, but was allowed in individuals’ units and balconies,” Shparber writes of the previous smoking rule in her building. “Since we are a family-friendly building, we have decided to make our building totally smoke-free.” Keep reading to learn more about this Hoboken building that has banned smoking inside + a history of smoking bans locally and statewide. 

    buildng smoke ban

    The Building’s Ban + A History of Smoking Bans 

    It took a vote amongst all of the buildings’ residents in order to officially approve the ban.

    Shparber continues, “Smoking isn’t allowed anywhere, including individual apartment units or their balconies. In order for that to happen, we of course as a building have to take votes from the residents and the majority wanted the smoke ban to happen. So it did {sic}.”

    We looked into it and it seems that the Mile Square has a long-winded history with smoking bans. Here’s what we dug up:

    See More: Hoboken Bans Styrofoam in Unanimous City Council Vote

    2006: State of New Jersey Bans Indoor Smoking

    Hoboken’s history with smoking bans seems to go back as far as 2006 when the State banned indoor smoking.

    According to The New York Times, the State of New Jersey became one of 10 states to enact the ban. On April 15th, 2006, the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act went into effect. The Smoke-Free Air Act banned smoking statewide in all enclosed workplaces throughout the state — all bars, restaurants, strip clubs, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, and even outdoor parts of school grounds.

    The only spaces excluded by the Act were cigar bars, tobacco retail stores, tobacco manufacturing facilities, private residences, inside of private automobiles, off-track betting parlors, and hotel/motel smoking rooms designated as such.

    2008: Condo in Minnesota Sparks Local Interest in Smoking Bans

    Hoboken’s history with smoking bans seems to go back as far as 2008 when a condo in Minnesota — La Rive Condominiums — made the building 100 percent smoke-free. At the time, the ban inspired some Hoboken residents and some Mile Square blogs picked it up in order to gauge local interest.

    At the time, opponents of the ban cited that it was a violation of rights. However, the Smoke-Free Common Interest Communities: Legal Fact Sheet maintains:

    Smoking is not a protected right or activity. Also, an individual’s status as a smoker is not a protected category of persons. Legal protections are generally limited to categories or persons that are considered to be innate {inherited} and immutable {unchangeable} and courts have found that being a smoker does not meet those criteria. Attempts by smokers to be considered disabled due to an addiction to nicotine have not been successful, so smokers do not receive protection under state or federal disability statutes.

    cigarettes hoboken

    2009: Related Companies in NYC Announces Smoking Ban

    A year after the Minnesota condo’s motion to ban smoking throughout the building, a popular landlord in New York City announced a full-stop smoking ban inside apartments on some of its premiere buildings. With one major caveat: The smoking ban only applied to new renters; long-time renters in Related Companies’ buildings did not, at the time, have to adhere to the new anti-nicotine statute.

    The Related Companies’ ban was so influential throughout Manhattan, that The New York Times actually covered it, prompting many New York City renters to think their building might be next.

    They were partially right.

    And as we know from living in such close proximity to the Concrete Jungle, whatever New York City does first, Hudson County tends to model their own version of it afterward.

    2012: Law Bans Smoking Within 20 Feet of City Buildings

    Finally, we get to Hoboken. The Mile Square was no doubt affected by the 2009 building-wide banning of smoking throughout Related Companies’ many properties. By September 2012, Hoboken was ready to take some kind of smoking action and enacted its own smoking ban. Smoking was proclaimed prohibited with 20 feet of the entrance of a city-owned building.

    The ordinance was passed in a 6-2 vote with the then First Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano and then Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti both voting “no.”

    The 2012 law was applicable to all people standing outside city buildings — not just City employees who perhaps stepped outside to take a smoke break.

    2019: Smoking Outlawed on NJ Beaches

    As of January 16th, 2019, smoking is banned on all public beaches and in state parks throughout New Jersey. A violation of this addition to the Smoke-Free Air Act can cause you a fine of anywhere between $250 and $1,000.

    Read More: The Dangers of Plastic Containers + Local Restaurants That Offer Alternatives

    Benefits of Smoke-Free Buildings

    smoking ban

    It’s no wonder that smoking bans in apartment buildings are becoming not only more common but also, more of a desirable thing for tenants.

    First, secondhand smoke is almost impossible to evade in a building that allows indoor smoking. Secondhand smoke can travel through lighting fixtures, cracks in the walls, through your plumbing, under doors, and even through shared vents and heating systems. Even secondhand smoke has been linked to lung cancer and cardiac disease; you do not have to be the smoker yourself in order to be affected by the nasty disadvantages.

    A building-wide smoking ban, as of 2019, also positions a property with a certain level of market advantage. More and more, renters want smoke-free units. According to Public Health Law Center, smoke-positive units are more difficult to sell and spend longer amounts of time on the market.

    Going smoke-free also lowers the cost in the long-run for landlords. It can save property owners on maintenance and cleaning costs because less work is needed in order to clean up the effects of the smoke {not to mention, the smell}.

    Smoking bans also save a lot of legal face. That’s right — renters exposed to secondhand smoke can actually sue. Additionally, tenants with pre-existing physical conditions can claim their conditions were aggravated by secondhand smoke under disability laws as stated in the Fair Housing Act.

    You see? Simply being in a building that allows indoor smoking puts you more at risk.

    Could a Smoking Ban Happen Here

    Well, in many ways, it already has. After all, Victoria’s building voted for a building-wide smoking ban, so yes, on a smaller scale, many Mile Square apartment complexes can vote to do the same.

    Now, as far as a citywide ban? It doesn’t seem likely. There hasn’t been enough recent movement with smoking bans in order to warrant a citywide apartment ban. If it did happen, it would feel pretty out of the blue.

    That being said though, Victoria’s building might just be the catalyst to start a citywide smoking ban in motion… if that were something other local buildings wanted to pursue.

    What do you think about enacting building-wide smoking bans in Hoboken? Comment below!

    Did you know: We started a podcast about all things news and lifestyle in Hoboken + Jersey City! Listen to the latest episode of Tea on the Hudson here and subscribe.

    We release new episodes every Tuesday!


    Written by:

    Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.


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