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Smoking ban may toughen

Council backs regulations, but some wonder if it’s government going too far.

April 24, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — The City Council this week directed officials to draft a set of regulations that would ban smoking in most areas of multiunit residential buildings.

The proposal — supported by residents and special interest groups — could ban smoking at play areas, swimming pools, and apartment buildings’ and condominium complexes’ private balconies and patios.

Council members voted 3 to 1 Tuesday to craft the language, which was projected in July 2011. Councilman Dave Golonski recused himself because he owns multifamily property in the city.

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Mayor Gary Bric, a smoker who cast the deciding vote, mulled the implications of strengthening the city’s 3-year-old secondhand smoke restrictions.

“I think everyone has the right to clean air,” Bric said. “But I also think sometimes government regulates too many things.”

Although the updates were introduced last year, city officials delayed action after the council expressed interest in the results of an outside survey of 171 multifamily residents. Of those surveyed, 30% reported secondhand smoke drifting into their homes in the last year.

The survey, conducted by Smokefree Air For Everyone, also found that 75% of respondents favored requiring some units in multifamily buildings to be designated as nonsmoking; 84% said they would prefer to live in a nonsmoking building. Responses were analyzed by Los Angeles County health officials.

Most building owners are unaware that it is legal for them to designate nonsmoking areas “so they can reach this very large and so far unserved market,” said Esther Schiller, director of the Newbury Park-based Smokefree Air For Everyone, which advocates for secondhand smoke restrictions.

Although in the past regulating smoking in housing seemed controversial, local policymakers throughout the state are beginning to recognize that it is a serious health issue, she said.

“Nobody wants to be at war with anybody, but I think a recognition of the harms of second-, third-hand smoke and particulate matters especially where children are playing, is good,” Vice Mayor Anja Reinke said. “And I think smokers realize that and are quite courteous.”

Resident Doris Ticsay contended that protecting nonsmokers, children and pets from secondhand smoke, ash and cigarette butt litter was the last frontier in tobacco control.

“Just as the American West was won by civilizing forces, please civilize the problem of drifting tobacco smoke where we live,” she said.

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