Jul 28, 2014
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No Smoking Allowed: Tough New Rules On Where You Can Light Up

A proposed change in city law would bar smoking at outdoor concerts, restaurant patios, even inside apartments and townhouses. Is it needed to keep Petalumans healthy or does it go too far?

No Smoking Allowed: Tough New Rules On Where You Can Light Up


Petaluma is considering updating its tobacco control ordinance that, if passed, would restrict smoking at bus stops, theater lines as well as all multi-unit dwellings, including inside people’s own apartments.

On Monday, the city council will take up discussion of the proposed changes, which would also require all Petaluma hotels and motels to make at least 80 percent of their rooms smoke-free.

Many cities in Sonoma County have tightened laws on where people can smoke, but Petaluma has so far lagged behind. It did restrict smoking in public parks in 2009, although it’s not clear how well enforced the law is.

But when it comes to smoke in outdoor dining areas, bus stops, outdoor concerts and apartment complexes and other dwellings with shared walls, Petaluma has no laws on the books.

The new proposal, say advocates, will ensure that residents are not exposed to second-hand smoke.

“As harsh as it sounds, there are no actual legal rights for smokers because they aren’t a constitutionally protected class,” says Pam Granger, a spokeswoman for the local chapter of the American Lung Association. “That being said, if a property is large enough, a designated smoking area is an option.”

Over 237 California communities have updated their smoke-free ordinances in light of studies that show that there is no safe level exposure to second hand smoke, even in outdoor areas, according to Granger.

“Children, the elderly and disabled and low-income and other disadvantaged individuals and families are the most likely to suffer from breathing secondhand smoke because they are more likely to live in multi-unit housing, unable to afford a single family home,” she said. 

What do you think about the proposal? Is it a step in the right direction? Or should people living inside apartments be able to smoke if they choose? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of the story we made a mistake about requirements for hotels and motels. The proposed ordinance would require all hotels and motels to make sure that at least 80 percent of their rooms are smoke-free. Patch regrets the error.

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