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City Council Considers Smoking Restrictions in Apartments and Hotels


By Jason Islas
Special to the Lookout

July 1, 2011 – Smoking in Santa Monica's apartment buildings may be restricted, and banned altogether in new hotels.

The City Council directed staff Tuesday to prepare ordinances banning smoking in all newly-constructed hotels and requiring landlords to designate apartments in multi-family buildings as either smoking or non-smoking units.

“I think we can all agree that there's no doubt that second hand smoke is dangerous,” Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis said. “But the question becomes how do we take that and enact ordinances that restrict the exposure people might suffer to second hand smoke and balance that against other policies.”

“It is a fundamental civil rights issue for me about regulating what is a lawful activity” in private homes, she said.

Davis also expressed concern that banning smoking in multi-family units would interfere with smokers' rights to housing, especially with regard to Santa Monica's housing first program for homeless people.

Currently, Santa Monica's policy is to find housing for homeless people before they get off drugs, drinking or smoking.

The vast majority of smokers come from low-income households, which, the staff report notes, may lead to a disproportionate impact of smoking restrictions on poorer people.

But Mayor Richard Bloom said he didn't think the recommendations went far enough.

He suggested that people be restricted from smoking inside their buildings, as they now are in the workplace, saying that they can step outside if they want to smoke.

“For my part, I would like to see us consider expanding our laws to include a smoking ban in all new construction,” he said, a sentiment echoed by Councilmember Terry O'Day.

O'Day said that, like Davis, he was worried about the effect of smoking bans on people's right to housing.

But some people have been forced to move due to health issues caused by secondhand smoke, he said.

Carol Riel, a resident who spoke at the meeting, said that her neighbor's smoking habit has been bad for her asthmatic daughter.

Many like Riel showed up to voice their support for more restrictive smoking rules.

They shared anecdotes about smokers who have ignored their neighbors' requests to curb their smoking indoors. Some speakers even suggested banning smoking on the streets.

Council Member Pam O'Connor cast the lone vote against the motion to have City staff draft anti-smoking ordinances.

She said she was afraid the laws could lead to the eviction of smokers.

O'Connor quipped that if people want to restrict smoking, perhaps they ought to consider not driving as well. Requiring people to walk everywhere would also be healthier for them, she said.

The Council will discuss the issue further at a later date. Councilmembers Bobby Shriver and Kevin McKeown were not at the meeting.


“It is a fundamental civil rights issue for me about regulating what is a lawful activity” in private homes. Gleam Davis

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