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City Seeks Direction on Secondhand Smoke Law

Tonight, at the Alameda City Council meeting, city staff will ask Council to provide direction on improving the City’s secondhand smoke and tobacco control policies.

The staff report to council breaks down the considerations into four major areas:

  • Protections for Indoor or Enclosed Work Places
  • Protections for Outdoor Public Places
  • Secondhand Smoke Housing Policies
  • Regulation of Tobacco Sales
  • Education and Enforcement

The question of trying to control secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing is likely to cause the most controversy, in part because, as the report notes, “the rights of condominium owners pose a difficult challenge for policy makers, because the regulatory avenues used to mitigate the dangers of secondhand smoke in rental housing is not as practical for condominiums, since they are individually owned.” However, according to the staff report, 101 communities in California have adopted some kind of secondhand smoke housing policy; that includes Albany, Dublin, Oakland, Emeryville and Union City.

At least two residents have written to the city to ask for some kind of ordinance. Merle Yost wrote, “I believe it is time [to] stop smoking in existing multi-unit buildings. There is plenty of research to back up that second hand smoke is dangerous to support this decision…I am allergic to smoke. I seek regular medical attention that would not be necessary without the constant intrusion of smoke into my home.”

Kim Ward, who wrote that she lives in an apartment complex, wrote, “I suffer from asthma and allergies and don’t think that it’s acceptable to be forced to breathe in second-hand smoke just because there isn’t a law or rule forcing apartment owners and managers to consider the rights of those who do not smoke.”

Alameda City Council is expected to give direction on a proposed ordinance, which staff would bring back for review at a later date.

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