The city on Monday approved tough new restrictions on where Petaluma residents can smoke, including bus stops, hotels and even people’s own homes, if they live in an apartment, townhouse or condominium.
The changes go into effect August 1, 2013 for new multi-unit dwellings and January 1, 2014 for existing apartment complexes.
It means that residents living next to smokers in any dwelling with shared walls will now have the law on their side when they complain to neighbors or management. If management fails to crack down on smokers, it will give the city’s code enforcement officer recourse to cite the property owner.
Proponents of the ordinance include the local chapter of the American Lung Association and the Petaluma Coalition on Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs, which have spent years advocating for tougher anti-smoking laws.
“We support it because it will continue to change the social norm and it is our hope that the next generation of youth will not smoke at all,” said Bob Curry, co-chair of the coalition. “We have made significant progress in the last 20 plus years in changing the social norm, with saving lives, improving the health of residents and savings…in healthcare costs.”
Pam Granger, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, said the change will result in not only health benefits for residents, but savings for property owners, who have to pay an average of $500 more to clean a unit occupied by a smoker.
“It’s a double whammy, in terms of savings and in public health,” she said.
The council also agreed to make all Petaluma hotels and motels 100 percent smoke-free, although it’s not clear whether hotels would have separate smoking sections.
Councilman Chris Albertson was concerned about the ordinance infringing on smokers’ rights inside their homes, but Granger pointed out that smokers were considered a consumer class and not protected in a similar way that a race or religion is.
“Whenever you have a shared wall, it means an opportunity for smoke to drift in,” she said.
Councilman Mike Healy agreed that steps needed to be taken to eliminate second-hand smoke, which he called a “scourge” but pointed out that ordinance did nothing to protect residents from the danger of second-hand marijuana smoke.
What do you think of the changes? And will you be impacted?