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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK
New York apartment board 'bans smoking'
New York apartment buildings
It is thought to be the first such ban in the US
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By Jane Standley
BBC correspondent in New York

A residential building in Manhattan has banned smokers from buying any of its apartments, in what is believed to be the first such restriction of its kind in the United States.

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The law is likely to stir up vicious legal debate

The rule has been made by what is known as the co-operative board - made up of other apartment owners from the building - which screens all people who wish to buy an apartment there.

The new rule at the 29-storey building on Manhattan's Upper West Side will not be applied retrospectively, so any apartment owners who smoke will still be allowed to do so in their own home.

Smoking in public areas of the apartment building has already been outlawed.

Legal debate

But from now the co-op board will be able to ask buyers seeking to join them if they smoke.

Some are asking what will the co-op board be trying to regulate next - what clothes can be worn?

They can then turn their application down if they do, and any new owner who smokes in violation of the rule could be evicted and forced to sell their apartment.

Manhattan's co-op boards are known for being the most difficult in the country.

They have long regulated everything from noise levels to the size of dog allowed.

Some of the most difficult have even decreed that they interview any dogs themselves.

But this no-smoking rule breaks new ground, according to experts in property law.

They say it is likely to stir up a vicious legal debate, even touching on if the rule is unconstitutional.

And not all residents of the building itself agree; many are smokers themselves.

And some are asking what will the co-op board be trying to regulate next - what clothes can be worn?

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Americas
Tobacco firms still using Hollywood
14 Dec 01 | Health
Smoking in movies under fire
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