Smoking restrictions in the U.S and the world over keep getting stricter, and a California town has taken it a notch higher by banning smoking in homes. San Rafael, Calif. has placed a ban on smoking in homes where residents share common walls. The ban is applicable to apartment buildings, condominiums and multi-family residences.
The New Measure
The ordinance was passed in October but only took effect on the 14th of November. The new city ordinance does not only affect renters, but also home owners. There have been mixed reactions to the ban with some feeling like the government is more or less invading into people’s home by banning them from smoking in their own homes. The new ban was drafted following studies showing that second-hand smoke was able to leak through the commonly shared walls in apartments as well as through ventilation ducts and cracks.
Rebecca Woodbury, who helped San Rafael draft up the new rule and one of the study analysts, explained that it all came down to how a building was constructed. She explained that the neighbors of smokers were negatively affected by second hand smoke. The effects of second-hand smoke in such cases include health effects on the neighbors of smokers and apartments throughout California spend nearly $18 million annually cleaning the apartments of tenants who move out and were smokers.
Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25–30%.
The Boston Housing Authority had previous passed a similar ban in Massachusetts in 2011 barring smoking within public housing. However, the San Rafael’s ban is considered to be the strongest ban of this nature because it was based on county ordinance which was then modified, making it the strictest in the entire country.
California in 1995 enacted a statewide ban on smoking, making it the first state to enact such a law. The ban restricted smoking in enclosed public places including restaurants and bars. The smoking ban in Calabasas, California which placed a smoking ban to all places where non-smokers congregated including apartment complexes and sidewalks was initially thought to be the strictest smoking ban in the U.S. The ban considered the act of smoking in the proximity of non-smokers a misdemeanor which came with a $250 or more fine.
Oppositions to the New Ban
However, not many opponents of the new ordinance are speaking up with only two residents reported to have protested it during the same week it was implemented. It is various groups throughout the country who are showing concern that the new measures are infringing on individual privacy. New Jersey’s Citizens Freedom Alliance and the Smoker’s Club’s George Koodray said that laws covering second-hand smoking initially set out to protect non-smokers but they have since morphed into laws set out to control smoking. Steve Stanek who is a researcher at Chicago based Heartland Institute said that the ban was yet another example of the government trying to restrict people’s actions.
The ban will definitely see more smokers quit smoking and it is only a matter of time before other towns in California and others states as well join in towards the efforts of making the country smoke-free.