Bill To Regulate Smoking in Apartment and Condominium Complexes Prompts Debate
A bill (AB 210) introduced by Assembly member Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) to ban smoking in outdoor and common areas of apartment and condominium complexes and allow residents to sue neighbors because of "wafting smoke" will "spark a debate over the government's role in people's personal lives," the Sacramento Bee reports. The bill, which the Legislature has yet to debate, would require landlords to designate certain units smoking or non-smoking by Jan. 1, 2006, but would exempt smoking residents living in units as of Dec. 31, 2005, from a non-smoking designation, according to the Bee. "If you are in apartment 3A and the people below you in 2A smoke day and night and ventilation is poor, you really don't have much to do about it except complain," Nation said. About 17.4% of California adults smoke, and the state already prohibits smoking in private and public enclosed workplaces, restaurants, bars and child care facilities and within 25 feet of playgrounds (LePage, Sacramento Bee, 3/2). The Los Angeles Times reports that "no law protects smokers from discrimination by landlords" who are reluctant to rent to smokers or charge them higher rents because of the "odor, stains and fire hazard" associated with smoking. However, there is no current law to "give landlords and homeowner associations clear authority to restrict drifting smoke," according to the Times.
Esther Schiller, director of Smokefree Air for Everyone, said, "It's a huge issue. It's a mountain that's been hidden" (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 3/2). However, opponents of the measure say it would infringe on personal rights and pit neighbors against each other, while raising questions about who would enforce such a law, the Bee reports. A Nation staff member said that while the bill does not specify an enforcement agency, it likely would fall under local code (Sacramento Bee, 3/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.