A new proposed bill in California will outlaw smoking indoors in all attached dwellings. That means apartments, townhomes, condos, duplexes and other attached buildings. A full third of all Californians live in attached dwellings, so a law like this could have a huge direct effect on the lives of many people.
The controversial bill was introduced by Assemblyman Marc Levine. Under the law, indoor tobacco smoking would be banned in all attached dwellings, although outdoor smoking would still be permitted 20 feet or more from the building. Interestingly, in a state that has liberal marijuana laws, there is no provision for marijuana within the legislation, AB746.
I feel like every time I write about legislation that purports to put limits on people’s actions or activities, I’m torn (like with Massachusetts’ “fat letters” or whether people in South Caroline should be allowed to buy soda with food stamps). On one hand, I really see the public health benefits of this kind of a law, as well as the overall social benefits that would probably come as a long-lasting effect (If you’re not allowed to smoke anywhere, you’re less likely to be a smoker. Smoking becomes rarer as a whole, which is better for individuals and for society.) But on the other hand, I’m really resistant to laws governing what consenting adults can do in their own homes. I’ve lived in an condo building where a neighbor smoked, and it was super gross when I could smell it inside my apartment, but I would never dream of telling that person, whoever they were, that they couldn’t smoke inside their own unit, their own home. And I don’t necessarily think that the state of California should, either.
But the evidence cited in the SFGate article is compelling: the fact that almost 5 million Californians are exposed to secondhand smoke against their will, combined with the emotional story of Aaron Haning, the 9-year-old boy who has “itchy eyes” and respiratory problems because of his neighbor’s smoking.
According to SFGate:
A survey of California renters by the American Lung Association showed that 82 percent would prefer to live in a complex where smoking is not allowed anywhere or is confined to a separate section.
In recent years, some California cities (mostly in the Bay Area) have enacted their own laws against smoking in multi-unit buildings. Banning smoking in condo buildings is also a growing trend around the country.
What do you think about AB 746, the law proposed by Assembly Member Levine? Are you in favor or opposed? Why?
Photo: Flickr user Orin Zobest