The right to light up at home is in jeopardy for some California cigar smokers as a bill that would ban smoking in multifamily dwellings is gaining traction in the state's Assembly.
Introduced by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, AB 746 seeks to amend the current state smoking ban by adding language that would prohibit smoking any type of tobacco product inside any residential property that contains "two or more units with one or more shared walls, floors, ceilings, or ventilation systems." In other words, apartment buildings, townhouses and condominiums would fall under the new legislation.
If the bill were to pass, the only smoking permitted in a multifamily dwelling would be in designated areas at least 20 feet away from the residential units. Additionally, designated smoking areas would have to be clearly marked and at least 100 feet away from areas primarily used by children and those that "facilitate physical activity including playgrounds, swimming pools, and school campuses."
The bill states that violators of the new rules would receive a written warning for a first offense, a fine of up to $100 for a second offense and a fine up to $200 for a third violation.
For some California residents, though, violating the proposed legislation could lead to eviction from their residence. In cities such as Santa Monica, rental laws ensure renters can only be evicted from their homes with just cause.
Violating the new smoking measure would legally be a criminal infraction, hence enough just cause to be evicted. For this reason, Santa Monica City Council is opposing the bill as it is currently written.
Glynn Loope, executive director of the Cigar Rights of America, called the proposal "totally unnecessary and another example of nanny-state government," as landlords already have the authority to ban smoking on their own property.
"Assemblyman Levine obviously has no respect for private property rights, by this attempt to criminalize the use of legal tobacco products within the confines of a home," said Loope. "There are cases where citizens have actually confronted homelessness over regulations such as this."
Levine's bill was actually defeated in a 5 to 2 vote when it was first read in the Committee of Housing and Community Development. However, the bill has since been resurrected.