Smoking ban moves one step further

May 30, 2008 6:08:13 PM PDT
With tight quarters, shared vents and open windows at most apartment complexes, it's an unavoidable dispute between smoking and non-smoking tenants.

"One issue that I have a problem with in apartments is the drifting smoke from unit to unit. And when my kids are visiting, it's very obvious it's going to affect little lungs like that," says Pete Mizera, a non-smoking renter:

"To say I can't do something that's perfectly legal in my own home, it really strikes me offensively as an infringement on personal liberties," says John Vigna, a smoker.

The state Senate just sent a proposal over to the Assembly that would give landlords the right to ban smoking in rental units. Tenants could be subjected to a three-day notice to stop lighting up or risk eviction.

"It's our goal with this bill to clarify under the law that we can, indeed, do this and hopefully resolve some of those disputes," says Monica Williamson of the California Apartment Association.

The California cities of Calabasas and Belmont already passed similar bans because of the effects of second-hand smoke.

Opponents say the proposal unfairly targets certain populations

"The lowest income, families of color, people with lower educational attainment, people with disabilities, people that are moving beyond homelessness into a rental unit are the most likely to smoke," says Christine Minnehan of the Western Center on Law & Poverty.

Restaurants, the office, a car with kids in it -- smokers may soon see one more place in California they can't take a puff.

"I respect it. I feel like that's right. People smoke. People don't. You should respect that," says Shelly Carbonara, a smoker.

"They shouldn't be telling me what I can and cannot do in my home," says Vigna.

The bill now heads to the Assembly. Opponents say they could support the proposed ban if it doesn't apply to rent-controlled apartments and if tenants get 12 months notice of the new smoke-free rules.


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