San Francisco on the verge of controling smoking in apartments and restricting it at public events

San Francisco is snuffing out smoking one law at a time.

The City is on the verge of enacting a smoking ban at public events like Carnival and the Fillmore Jazz Festival. And on top of banning smoking at the public events, the Board of Supervisors may today nudge apartment owners to eliminate smoking by requiring landlords to designate all units either smoking or non-smoking and to disclose such information publicly.

The proposals, both of which were introduced by Supervisor Eric Mar, are not surprising in a city with a history of anti-smoking laws. Both proposals were unanimously approved Monday by the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee, which included the progressive Mar and moderate Supervisors Malia Cohen and Scott Wiener. The full board is expected to adopt them next month.

Both proposals seek to protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke, Mar said. “Second-hand smoke is a toxic substance that leads to deaths of many non smokers in the U.S.,” he said.

In 2010, San Francisco was home to about 350 permitted outdoor events such as street festivals, which draw residents, children and tourists. The legislation would require advertisements for such events to say they are smoke-free, requiring event holders to post no-smoking signs at entry and exit points. And where there is amplified sound, announcements must be made every two hours reminding patrons that the event is smoke-free.
Smoking is already prohibited in public parks, at bus stops and near entryways.

The proposal regarding smoking in apartments would require owners of buildings with 50 or fewer units to designate individual units smoking or nonsmoking by December 2013. Larger buildings would have until December 2014.

The motivation for the proposal is that the demand for non-smoking units will gradually results in the elimination of units where smoking is permissible. Smoking in apartments is permitted under law, but it can be prohibited in leases agreements. Existing leases would not be affected by the proposal.

Yet some anti-smoking advocates lament that the legislation is not more aggressive. “We need to do more,” said Brian Davis, project director of Freedom From Tobacco. “We need to make the buildings smoke-free.”

Other cities have done so. In 2009, Belmont banned smoking in apartments and a similar ban passed this year in San Rafael.

Mar said his legislation requiring landlords to designate and disclose whether individual apartments are smoking or non-smoking is a “first step.” He said he would consider introducing more restrictive anti-smoking laws in the future.

The legislation does not address cannabis smoke.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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