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Photo courtesy of the Queens Smoke Free Partnership
Photo courtesy of the Queens Smoke Free Partnership
Over 200 units in the Hilltop Village Cooperative are now smoke free.

Queens could be going smoke free, one apartment at a time.

The Queens Smoke-Free Partnership has converted 220 apartment homes into smoke-free zones and is furthering its work throughout the borough through various initiatives.

“Smoke-free housing is very up and coming,” said Yvette Buckner, the Queens borough manager at the Partnership. “We’re helping to formalize a policy and make Queens a healthier place.”

The Hilltop Village Cooperative in Hollis is one of the new smoke-free sites. Melvin Doby, board president of Cooperative Building 1 at Hilltop Village, sees the new initiative as a movement towards better health and one in which residents need to compromise.

Before the smoke-free space was implemented, Doby went out and spoke with his shareholders in Building 1. He admitted that some people had issues, but regardless, the motion passed with a significant majority vote.

“People say, ‘It’s infringing on our rights, our liberties,’ but when you signed on the dotted line, you signed [to] play well with others,” he said. “It’s a shared space. Our apartments are not air-tight. Second-hand smoke is a problem.”

After the building was made smoke free, designated smoking areas were put in place around the vicinity. Doby said that the co-op has a large elderly population, many of whom rely daily on oxygen tanks. If smokers are free to roam as they please around the property, Doby said it could be a great health concern.

“It’s just something to accommodate everyone,” he added. “It’s also a common courtesy.”

Within the next year, the Partnership plans to work with the Queens Co-op and Condo Association and the Queens Civic Congress to create more smoke-free units.

Aside from smoke-free housing, the Partnership is working on limiting tobacco marketing and exposure to youth and working in conjunction with community groups and youth organizations.

“We’re trying to keep them healthy where they live, work and play,” said Buckner.

 

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