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Alameda City Council Expected to Approve Secondhand Smoke Ordinance Tonight

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Alameda City Council is expected to approve tonight a new ordinance that would regulate smoking in outdoor public places and multi-unit rental complexes and condominium buildings, in an effort to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

Development of the ordinance has been smoldering at least since April of this year, when city staff asked Council for direction on the matter.

The new rules would require the posting of “No Smoking” signs and prohibit smoking in Alameda in outdoor seating at bars and restaurants, within 20 feet of doors and windows to enclosed areas, at public events such as farmers’ markets, recreation areas, service areas, shopping malls and commercial-area sidewalks.

The staff report to Council notes, “It is anticipated that the adoption of these outdoor smoking provisions may present a conflict with bar owners concerned that their business will be affected if patrons are prohibited from smoking in outdoor seating areas and at the entrances of their establishments.”

Potentially more controversially, the ordinance would also prohibit smoking in all units, both new and existing, in multi-unit rental complexes, including balconies and porches; it would also be prohibited in 100% of new units of common interest complexes (i.e. condominiums.) The law would also require smoking prohibition clauses to be included in lease and rental agreement terms.

A rental complex is defined as a multi-unit residence (two or more units), where 51 percent or more of the units are leased out by the same landlord.

Council has the option to allow landlords to designate up to 10% of existing rental units as smoking units.

The proposed law also includes prohibitions on smoking at certain workplaces, such has hotel/motel lobbies, certain retail shops, small businesses with fewer than five employees, and outdoor worksites, including construction areas.

Landlords would have 14 months to phase-in the no smoking provisions, while the workplace smoking and outdoor public places prohibitions of the ordinance would go into effect 30 days after adoption.

The city council meeting is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at Alameda City Hall at 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

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