In the past decade, smoking bans have been put in place to help decrease the effects of second hand smoke and increase the overall health of the public. These bans include restaurants, bars, and in many areas, pubic parks. Anti-smoking ads and campaigns have appeared all over the world to help deter children from smoking and to convince those who smoke to quit. Now in Santa Monica, apartment buildings are motioning to ban smoking within apartments.
As second hand smoke continues to be linked with poor health conditions, local and national governments are looking for ways to reduce the effects of second hand smoke. Businesses are also doing their part to help save the lives of their patrons. For apartment complexes, this is easier said than done. The home is one of the few places where regulating smoking wasn’t possible, until now.
In Santa Monica California, a new smoking ban has been passed by City Council that prohibits new residents of apartment homes and condos from smoking in their homes. This ban was created to protect non-smoking neighbors from the effects of second hand smoke that can be carried through vents and down halls.
The ban has already passed the first vote through City Council and will need to pass a second vote before it is official and enforced. As it is not possible to make smoking illegal without meeting resistance from the large tobacco companies, cities can only prohibit smoking in places that would affect non-smokers.
Legalities and Complications of the Ban:
As expected, the ban is met with debate by smokers who feel they have the right to smoke in their own homes which they pay for. Questions regarding whether the City Council is interfering with their rights and intruding on their privacy have been raised.
In response the advocates of the new ban have spoken out for those non-smokers by stating that the tenants didn’t sign up for exposure to second hand smoke. However, others argue that tenants of multi-family homes understand the risks involved and know what to expect when living in close quarters to others.
The bigger question however, is determining if the government has the right to intrude into the homes of citizens as well as govern the type of tenants an apartment complex accepts. This type of ban may directly affect the decision of moving into apartment homes resulting in lower tenant rates for complex owners. If given a choice to live in an apartment where they are prohibited from smoking or renting a house where they are not governed, the choice may be very simple.
If the ban is passed through the second round of voting, it will be effective and enforced 30 days later. This would give smokers one less place to light up and non-smokers another place to stay healthy. The effects of second hand smoke are apparent and real, but is the government going too far?
Jeffrey Martin is a blogger and smoker who has made the switch to electronic cigarettes as a less intrusive alternative to smoking.