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Apartment Anti-Smoking Bill Raises Concerns for Weho Renters

The Senate-approved bill gives landlords power under California law to prohibit smoking inside rental units.

A California bill passed by the state Senate last week regarding smoking in apartments could have a major impact in West Hollywood by giving landlords ammunition to evict smokers.

Senate Bill 332 introduced earlier this year by Senator Alex Padilla (20th Senate District, which covers most of the San Fernando Valley) would allow landlords to declare a rental unit or an entire apartment complex non-smoking. It passed the Senate on a 33-2 vote without debate, and now heads to the Assembly. 

While many apartment complexes already have smoke-free policies, there is nothing in current law that explicitly permits a landlord to restrict smoking.

West Hollywood Mayor John Duran is disturbed by the implications of the bill. “I would oppose it, because it would give the landlords another tool to remove tenants from rent-control units,” Duran said.

According to the latest Census figures, 78 percent of West Hollywood residents live in rental units. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 20 percent of West Hollywood residents smoke, compared to 14 percent in Los Angeles County.

If passed, the bill would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012. However, as currently written, the bill has a provision that if a city already has a local ordinance regarding apartment smoking in place prior to that date, the city’s law would stand.

West Hollywood currently does not have an apartment smoking ordinance. Duran, who was bitterly opposed to the city’s new outdoor smoking ban, says he would have to wait and see what happens in Sacramento before deciding if the city should adopt a weaker ordinance.  

So far, the bill has largely flown under the radar. In fact, Duran was unaware of it until Weho Patch asked him about it.

“I’m surprised tenants rights groups aren’t opposing it,” Duran said. “I’m sure there are a lot of residents who would like to see their neighbors removed because they smoke, but that’s not what West Hollywood is about.”

In 2007, Councilwoman Abbe Land considered sponsoring an apartment smoking ban due to concerns about second-hand smoke, but dropped the idea because of the potential for evictions.

Locals react

Weho resident Brett Jeffries, who lives in a 78-unit building on Larrabee Street, is someone who is irritated by his neighbors smoking on their balconies.

“I come home and the whole place smells like cigars,” said Jeffries. “People say I should close my windows, but I should be able to enjoy the fresh air too.”

While Jeffries describes himself as a militant anti-smoker, he is not in favor of someone being evicted simply because they smoke. “I’m militant about it, but I’m also fair,” he said. He believes apartment buildings should create designated smoking areas.

Another anti-smoker wasn’t as generous. “There is no right to smoke,” he said. “Smokers are filthy and disgusting. If they won’t quit, then evict them.”  

Weho resident Shelia Lightfoot, a smoker, is appalled but not surprised by the bill.

“Smokers are such a minority, this lends itself perfectly to the tyranny of the majority over the minority,” Lightfoot said. “Then again, anti-smoking zealots consider smokers sub-human, so I guess the Constitution doesn’t apply.”

Lightfoot worries about civil liberties and the right to do what one pleases in the privacy of one’s home.

“For every individual right, you'll find people against it,” she said. “Have we not learned in all our history that our own rights can only exist as long as we are willing to protect the rights of others?”

Another Weho smoker summed it up: “We are well passed the nanny state and now into the bully state." 

Second-hand smoke concerns

In authoring the bill, Padilla said he wanted to create more smoke-free housing options. His bill cites the health dangers of second-hand smoke, which is estimated to cause 49,000 deaths per year in the United States.

In 2006, the California state Air Resources Board classified second-hand smoke as a toxic air contaminant, the same category it places automobile exhausts and industrial air pollutants.

The U.S. Surgeon General stated in 2010 that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco-control advocate, who teaches at Boston University’s School of Public Heath, recently challenged the Surgeon General’s statement and other second-hand-smoke research.

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Siegel criticized the lack of scientific integrity in many second-hand-smoke studies, saying “in trying to convince people that even transient exposure to second-hand smoke is a potentially deadly hazard, smoking opponents risk losing scientific credibility.” 

A longtime anti-smoking advocate who is disturbed by what he considers unethical actions by the tobacco-control movement, Siegel writes a daily watchdog blog which monitors tobacco-control activities and analyzes smoking-related public policy.

Paul May 19, 2011 at 04:46 PM
I don't care for people who smoke so I am all for landlords kicking out smokers. I hate smelling that crap! I hope that goes for marijuana smoking also. That has gotten way out of hand with these pot stores open for business as usual and these perfectly healthy people getting prescriptions from doctors willy nilly. That needs to STOP! Close the pot stores!!!!
Gerard Thai May 19, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I don't understand why anyone would oppose this. There are a few things at stake here...one is the damage a smoker's smoke does to an apartment usually exceeds the deposit they have on their unit. In order to get the smell out, the carpet, pad, and drapes (if equipped), have to be replaced. The walls soak in the smell and can't be covered by paint. The neighbours shouldn't be impacted by noises from their neighbours...why smoke? is there a difference? If you smoke and you rent, like in the building I live in, you should have to go off the property to smoke. If you don't want to go off your rental property to smoke, then move. The unit the tenant is living in isn't theirs. It's someone else's unit that they're using and if the landlord says no smoking, then no smoking. This subject wasn't really up for debate when hotels and car rental agencies started charging massive fees for catching people smoking in their units. Why should it be different for landlords?
SD May 19, 2011 at 05:37 PM
In America, your rights literally stop at my nose. You can say or do almost anything you want in our country... but you can't touch someone else without consent. Smoke does not stop at my nose. It also doesn't stop at the cracks underneath doors and walls. Time for companies to sell plastic booths you can set up in your apartment with self-contained filtration systems so someone addicted to tobacco can enjoy incubating their cancer and lung disease privately and not impose it on other people against their will. I appreciate the medicinal (and/or fun) desire for pot smoking, but that doesn't need to be shoved down my throat via a neighbor either.
Jerome Cleary May 19, 2011 at 07:19 PM
What is the big deal all the smokers have to do is stop smoking to stay in their apartments. Just stop smoking and do not smoke anymore or go down to your car or to the street and go smoke.
Sheila Lightfoot May 19, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Hysteria or zealotry rarely allows for reasonable discussion, but let me try. First, let’s deal with reality. Smokers are using a legal product. We’ve been banned from most indoor spaces, pushing us outdoors, but since we’re being banned, now, from open outdoor spaces, we’re being pushed back indoors. As long as unreasonableness prevails, a reasonable solution can’t be found. Now, let’s think about how we go about deciding what should or should not be banned or restricted in society. What about banning things that we don’t like to smell? Are we ready to ban everything “anyone” doesn’t like to smell… garlic, exhaust fumes, dog urine, charcoal, Indian food (or take your pick), bad cologne, the homeless, charcoal, paint, trash that sits for a week in our bins… see where I’m going with that argument?
Sheila Lightfoot May 19, 2011 at 09:34 PM
OK, now let’s talk about health… considering the most rigorous and settled science, shouldn’t we start with the biggest health threats. Let’s ban vehicular traffic and ownership from the city including buses and the huge metro bus terminal, rid the city of fast food, meat products, most of the packaged food on our shelves, prescription drugs that are often found later to cause all sorts of human ailments, alcohol, don’t forget about sex (just think of the diseases that could be prevented) and, finally, let’s ban flipping on our light switches and turning on our TVs or computers (yes, we still import a lot of energy from coal-fired power plants). Why don’t we concentrate on banning all those things? Because the majority doesn’t want to give up any of their bad habits. It is easier and involves zero self-sacrifice to insist that whiffs of smoke they smell occasionally from those of us in the minority are the bane of their existence. Once all those more unhealthy habits have been banned, have a reasonable conversation with smokers about theirs. I apologize in this and the previous posting for my political crudeness, not meaning to offend… but to make a point. Without reason and tolerance of individual choice, whether we find it wrong, unpleasant or even offensive, we ALL lose. And one other thing… hateful words and attempts to ostracize people out of a sense of personal superiority or belief is never the right answer to any problem.
Mr. Mitchell May 19, 2011 at 09:35 PM
I live in BH on Doheny, right next door to WH. I am really sick and annoyed by smokers who want to push their personal health/death choice on me and my family. Smokers have rights, and so do non-smokers. Every morning when I come home from the gym, our rude and obnoxious upstairs neighbor lady sits on the stairs, has a cup of coffee, chats on the phone and smokes. Our courtyard is her personal lounge area. She has friends who smoke and when they come to visit her they also sit out there and smoke. She even leaves her lighters on the outside window ledge. When we moved in 4 yrs ago, we were told that there is no smoking. But this lady thinks she is above the rules. And now that we recently have new management, they, in an apparent effort to show the owners they can do a better job than the old mgt, rented an upstairs unit to a family of smokers. Sometimes our courtyard is cloudy from all their smoke. We all have to walk through it and smell it if we want to get any fresh air. That's not fair. I am speaking to lawyers & the City of BH to see what rights I have . If I need to start litigation, I will just to get clean air for me and my family. If a landlord wants to evict people for smoking only, I say that's fine with me. As long as they can prove that the person has done only that to be ousted. As a renter, I know that I must obey all the rules, and especially me since I have been complaining about the smokers for years. Why should this rule be any different?
Jerome Cleary May 19, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Smokers and Smoke are a big drag. Lets get healthy in 2011 and have Smokers stop smoking. Please google: 2nd hand and 3rd hand smoke so smokers can read about all the harm their nasty addiction causes.
larry gust May 20, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I am amazed at all the non smoking jerks opnions.....and I don't smoke!!!!!!!!!! You non smokers also have right to move IF YOU don't like it !!! Since when do you rule the air??!!! That's all the landlords need is another tool to raise rents!!! Apartments are SUPPOSED to be painted and cleaned after a rentor leaves...smoke not that hard to get rid of in an apartment, with the exception of cigar smoke , which is harder but not impossible to get rid of........Jeez people CHILL I'm glad you're not My neighbor, oh your probably the ones the Bar -Q in the courtyard !!
Paul May 20, 2011 at 02:05 AM
Smokers are stupid people, period!!! I'm sick of smelling there toxic smoke. I am a former smoker and the most offended by 2nd hand smoke. Don't do it near me or I'll say something that you won't like it. Good for Bev.Hills & West Hollywood for caring about the health of it's residences.
Ali May 20, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Why don't you google how hard it is to quit smoking Jerome. It is compared to kicking heroin. You make it sound soooo easy. It isn't. I know. I finally was successful after many many tries. I smoked for 42 years. You think it is easy to quit after that many years? And what about the true medical marijuana patient? Should they have to leave their apartments to medicate?
Ali May 20, 2011 at 07:32 PM
I am a former smoker also, and I don't particularly care for the smell anymore either, but I will NOT call anybody stupid for not being ready or able to quit yet. It is ex-smokers like you that piss me off.
Ali May 20, 2011 at 07:34 PM
And Paul, your statement says "Good for BH and WH for caring about the health of it's residences" meaning the building, not the residents.
Paul May 20, 2011 at 08:55 PM
People who smoke cigarettes pollute the earth with dirty smoke and filthy cigarette butts. Feel bad for people who need marijuana for health reasons but these people getting for medical reason when all they REALLY need it for is to get high REALLY bugs me! They need to clamp down on the abuse and close these dam pot stores. It sends a poor message to our children and young people. It is a gateway drug. I should know my nephew has a VERY serious problem with weed and has been in rehab two times. It should definitely never be legalized.
Ali May 20, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Paul, I'm sorry for your nephew's problems with drugs, but I'm sorry, it is not always a gateway drug. If you close the dispensaries, then the people who need the marijuana for medical reasons (like me) won't be able to get it. And you don't know who is getting it for real reasons or not Paul. Many disabilities (in fact, most) are invisible. I smoked marijuana recreationally for a long time and it didn't lead me to any other drug use. I gave it up when I was ready to with no problems at all. That was years ago. Years before I developed Fibromyalgia and Arthritis, which I now use medical marijuana for to help with the chronic pain. I also have Chronic Sciatica and muscle spasms in my back. None of those things are visible to the naked eye so people like you would think I am going into a Dispensary to get marijuana just to get HIGH.
Residents for Smoke-Free Living May 20, 2011 at 11:29 PM
The bill is a fantastic first step and a win for renters, though it doesn't go far enough. Given the percentage of nonsmokers in CA, we should level the playing field across communities and require all landlords to provide a large percentage of units as nonsmoking to residents (since they haven't quite gotten their act together). Smoke from one unit can impact the units above, below, behind, and to the side of them - and make life miserable for many. Something needs to be done to protect our families in multi-family housing. People who live in apartments can't control the smoke that enters their units from neighboring ones and can't move easily either. The idea here isn't to force people who smoke to move, but simply to go somewhere to smoke where it doesn't impact others. People who smoke can simply go outside and away from the building, while people who experience secondhand smoke drifting into their home can't tell the smoke to go outside or not to enter their lungs. Smoke doesn't know where it's not supposed to go. People who smoke can also work on quitting (which most people who smoke say they want to do anyway -- perhaps this will be added incentive.) If people who choose to smoke are NOT going to be considerate of their neighbor's right to health and fresh air, then why should we go out of our way to protect their behavior choice? It's about time people who smoke get considerate, get healthy, or move somewhere that doesn't impact others.
Magnetic May 21, 2011 at 06:32 AM
Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid – even murderous – history. Americans, in particular, should be highly sensitive to antismoking. There were concurrent anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol “crusades” in early-1900s USA. These crusades led to a temporary ban on the sale of tobacco in some states and smoking restrictions in most states, and eventually Prohibition immediately following WWI. http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1981/2/1981_2_94_print.shtml Pushed by the eugenics and temperance movements, antismoking (and anti-alcohol) was viewed as in the interests of a “healthier” society. Rather, this fake “purity” promoted irrational fear, hatred, and social division: It brought out the worst in the human disposition. Baseless, inflammatory claims were made as a matter of course by so-called “authorities” and “experts”.
Magnetic May 21, 2011 at 06:36 AM
(cont'd) What is not noted in Dillow (1981) is that eugenics was rife at the turn of the last century. In addition to its racial/heredity/breeding dimension, eugenics also has a behavioral dimension. Along this dimension, eugenics is anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol (negative eugenics) and aggressively pushes approved diet and physical exercise (positive eugenics). In this context, tobacco and alcohol are viewed as body toxins that should be avoided/eradicated. Consider the example of Indiana. It introduced a ban on the sale of tobacco in 1905, followed by a sterilization law in 1907. By the time of Prohibition, 22 states already had sterilization laws and another 11 states would introduce such laws in the decade following Prohibition. Most anti-tobacco laws occurred before Prohibition and mostly in states that had/would have sterilization laws. It should be clear that eugenics was the driving force behind anti-tobacco, anti-alcohol, and sterilization laws early last century. It is the eugenics elite, funded by the mega-wealthy and embraced by the so-called “educated”, that had the ear of the legislature.
Magnetic May 21, 2011 at 06:37 AM
(cont'd) Eugenics made numerous baseless, inflammatory claims. These claims were simply accepted at face value given that eugenics was viewed as “scholarly” and “scientific”, and it promised a “healthier” society, ridded of crime, poverty, and disease. And it produced a bandwagon effect, with state by state progressively buying into the derangement. California was the leader in the American eugenics insanity. It performed more sterilizations – by far - than any other state. It performed over 20,000 sterilizations. The next highest state was North Carolina with 7,600. There was also an intimate connection between American – particularly Californian – and German eugenicists. The latter were students of American eugenics that later went on to lead the Nazi assault. Post WWII, the greatest concentration of eugenicists was in the USA. The eugenics mentality was never resolved in the USA. Eugenicists didn’t just disappear or change their mentality. Given the horrors associated with the term “eugenics” following Nazism, they simply stopped using the “E”[ugenics] word. Further, given their thoroughly flawed “heredity trees”, they abandoned the heredity/racial/breeding dimension and focused entirely on the behavioral dimension.
Magnetic May 21, 2011 at 06:38 AM
(cont'd) The contemporary antismoking “crusade” has been produced by the same eugenics personnel – physicians, biologists, zoologists, pharmacologists, statisticians, behaviorists. Health reduced to biology is the eugenics framework and the aggressive peddling of the definition with a view to societal change (social engineering) is very much the fascism of the eugenics mentality. The current antismoking crusade was put into motion in the mid-1970s (see Godber/WHO Blueprint www.rampant-antismoking.com ). And since that time it is California that has been the global leader in antismoking, continuing its eugenics tradition. Rather than ban the sale of tobacco, the goal this time is to ban smoking in essentially all the places where people would typically smoke. Indoor and outdoor bans were planned years before even the first study on secondhand smoke. George Godber (now deceased) would have been happy if people were only permitted to smoke in their homes. So apartment bans would have probably shocked even Godber. However, as far as fanaticism is concerned, the extent of delusional action can be difficult to predict.
Magnetic May 21, 2011 at 06:39 AM
(cont'd) In pushing their deranged world view, contemporary eugenicists are very much in line with their predecessors. They use lies, exaggeration, manipulation, pitting groups against other groups to achieve their goals. And like early last century, there are many – essentially the “educated”/wealthy classes - that have jumped on the bandwagon. There are now groups around America and the world stumbling over each other to be the first to institute the most draconian, widespread smoking bans for a eugenics-defined “healthier” society. California is still the leader in this regard. As history shows, nothing good came of eugenics (or fanaticism generally). It promoted irrational belief, fear, intolerance, bigotry, racism, cruelty, brutality, crime. In the current antismoking bandwagon – just a taste of one dimension of eugenics - we see the same intolerance, irrational fear, and bigotry made to appear as “progressive”.
Bill McInnes November 17, 2012 at 06:22 AM
I totally agree,this is the right move to protect people's rights.I have seen this first hand my neighbors trying to get on my nerves ,blowing smoke righti into my apt . It takes a lot of nerve. Where is my Human Rights? This should be enforced,if a person wants to smoke go out in the street. There want me to move ,so they can have the apt.
Bill McInnes November 17, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Please shown to Mayor Thank You Billy McInnes Neighbors been terrorizing me. They live at 1004 Spaulding ,Apt # 4 For 3 years!,
Ali November 17, 2012 at 08:50 AM
If you have complained to the manager and/or owner of the property in writing and they haven't done anything about it, go to City Hall and file a complaint with Rent Stabilization.
Ali November 17, 2012 at 08:50 AM
If you have complained to the manager and/or owner of the property in writing and they haven't done anything about it, go to City Hall and file a complaint with Rent Stabilization.
Chance December 04, 2012 at 08:24 AM
Let's close all the bars & clubs too Paul, those drinkers are loud, they pee in the alleys, they drive after drinking, they get into fights, it's unhealthy, it can lead to alcoholism, they hang out outside & smoke, and anyone that looks 21 can get it. Let's close those too Paul.
Billy simmons February 03, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Sheila your argument just shows selfishness and ignorance. We aren't talking about the smell of bad fish. We are talking about a toxic substance that kills adults and young children who would prefer to breath healthy air. But instead they are forced to breath second hand smoke that comes in to their own home. You mentioned banning traffic or fast food. The difference is we all can choose to not drive or not eat unhealthy food, but if our neighbor smokes, we have no choice. We simply have to breath their shitty air and be exposed to serious health risks, all just so some selfish smoker can enjoy a cigarette. Please respond. I would love to hear more ignorance from you.
George February 03, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Put a new tax on cigarettes and perhaps people will get wise and kick the habit? Hit em where it hurt!

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