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Clarifying Santa Monica's Smoking Law
January 18, 2013
The last paragraphs of your "nonsmoking law" article need clarification. ("Santa Monica Earns an A for Anti-Smoking Efforts," January 17, 2013)
Current tenants are asked to designate their unit as "smoking" or "non smoking," but if they do not choose to designate, the unit is classified as "undesignated." Undesignated units are for all intents and purposes treated as "smoking" units.
Smoking in "smoking" and "undesignated" units has no legal downside. Tenant's may smoke. Relatives and friends who visit may smoke. Caregivers, new roommates and new spouses may smoke. The same is true for current condo-owner occupants or their current tenants.
Once the tenancy or current occupancy has ended, the unit is automatically designated a nonsmoking unit for all future occupants.
The only way to enforce the law is for a private person who objects to smoking by an occupant of a "nonsmoking" unit is to take action themselves. They must notify the smoker of their objection and of the terms of the ordinance. If that does not solve the problem, the objector may bring and prove-up an action in Small Claims Court with a possible win of $100 for a first offense. The amount increases for second successful action, and for third offense in a calendar year, the amount of the claim steps up to a max of $500.
An occupant who allows smoking in his or her unit cannot be forced to move for that reason.
Michael Tarbet, Attorney
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