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NEW YORK CITY-As building owners here have tried to comply with city ordinances that restrict smoking, as well as the state’s Smoke-free Air Act, face the choice of either providing expensive means of providing a smoking space or ban it altogether within their buildings, most will likely choose to go smoke-free one expert suggests. Vice president Bob DiChiara of the World Trade Center Associates suggests it’s more cost-effective to be smoke-free.

While the city has its own means of enforcing the anti-smoking regulations, with fines, owners themselves can only post signage and speak with violators, reminding them of the law. If a violator persists the owner can enlist the help of the Fire Department and have a fire inspector sent. Fellow tenants bothered by the smoke can contact the city, OSHA and/or the state Department of Health if going to owner or manager doesn’t help.

DiChiara says, “Within a building it’s really the responsibility of the tenant to enforce the non-smoking regulations with its staff. If a problem persists there are measures the owner/manager can take, but they are generally costly.

“For example,” he continues, “at 4 WTC, there’s all commodity exchanges, in effect, small offices, and with one of the tenant spaces the people there were smoking cigars and the smoke got into the common ventilation. These are 200 sf small spaces, but they wouldn’t stop, so we demised–put in blockages in the ventilation and diving walls to the ceiling–those spaces. Owners can’t control it, but they do the best they can to enforce the rules.”

At the WTC, for example, DiChiara explains that the air is controlled through a central HVAC and that this is operated in “mechanical equipment rooms. In the WTC there’s one room for every 32 floors. In order to provide smoking space in the building, one would have to create a means of ventilating the space to the outside. This is an extremely costly endeavor.”

Buildings such as the WTC cannot easily create outside ventilation, DiChiara says. “There are factors to consider, even the automatic window washers have to be considered.” He says when all of the complications are considered and the expenses that would result, if a tenant asked for a smoking space to be built, “I’d say no.”

Even with a non-smoking office, there’s “another issue that’s a real pain in the neck” he says–the discarding of cigarettes on the sidewalk in front of the buildings. “People go outside to smoke, and even if you put ashtrays down, they’ll throw the butts on the ground. Maybe they’re angry that they have to go all the way outside to smoke, but it looks terrible.

“I had the ambassador of Kazakhstan to the WTC,” he shares. “He was with the mayor of one of the biggest cities in his country ,too. We had to step over 100 cigarette butts on our way into the WTC. It looked terrible.”

Even a solution to this problem can be costly. “I could have someone out there with a broom, but they’d have to be there full-time to keep up with the problem. If you hired a full-time porter to deal with all of the cigarette butts in front of the building it could get pretty expensive.”

He concludes, “If you want to deal with the whole issue right it can be pretty expensive either way. If you just do the basic, routine maintenance I wouldn’t say it’s too costly an issue. The bottom line is I would discourage smoking anywhere in the building. Personally, as a former smoker, and we’re the worst non-smokers, I would make it completely smoke-free in buildings for health, as well as cost reasons.”

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