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Does Santa Monica’s proposed residential smoking ban go too far?

Santa Monica City Council may ban smoking in private residences.
Santa Monica City Council may ban smoking in private residences.
Raul Lieberwirth/Flickr Creative Commons

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The Santa Monica City Council is scheduled to vote today on an ordinance that would ban smoking for new tenants in apartments and condos.

The ordinance, originally approved by a 4-2 vote on July 10, would allow existing tenants to continue smoking in their residences if they seek to have them designated as “smoking.” Neighbors would be responsible for enforcing the new rules, by filing actions in small claims court. Fines for smokers would be $100 for a first offence, $200 for the second, $300 for the third.

The goal is to protect non-smokers from the carcinogens in secondhand smoke, which can seep through walls and vents. But what’s a smoker to do?

This proposal is on top of a law that went into effect in September 2010 that made it illegal to light up on private balconies, porches and decks within a 25-foot radius of doors, windows and vents. And if you think you can head out to the beach for that puff, think again. It’s also unlawful to smoke in many public spaces, including beaches, parks and outdoor dining areas.

An editorial in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times argues that this new ordinance simply goes too far. And two Santa Monica Council members, Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor agreed, the first time around at least.

How are officials likely to vote today? Is this ordinance the right way to protect non-smokers? Or does it go too far? Is it fair to limit tenants’ rights to smoke in their own homes?


Bobby Shriver, Councilmember, Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Michael Ong, Associate Professor of Medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA