To smoke or not to smoke? Soon all the neighbors will know your answer.
Tenants of multi-family housing complexes will be required to publically disclose if they smoke under new regulations adopted Tuesday in an initial 4-2 vote by the Santa Monica City Council.
The new rules—which require a second vote before becoming law—ban smoking in all newly constructed units and those left vacant after the new rules are officially adopted.
"It’s your right to keep a messy home, but it’s not your right to keep such a messy home that attracts rats" to nearby units, said councilman Terry O'Day.
The ordinance includes a disclosure mandate that councilman Kevin McKeown said will "demonize smokers." Landlords will be required to compile and distribute to all current and prospective occupants a map pinpointing where smokers live.
Those council members in favor of the ban said they were choosing the rights of the "tenancies of the women with children coming to tell us about their asthmatic conditions" over the rights of smokers.
"I'm tired of listening to folks [who say] we gotta protect the tenancies of chain smokers," said councilman Bobby Shriver.
Units occupied by residents who fail to disclose their smoking statuses will automatically become "non-smoking." And, every unit that becomes vacant after the law is passed, will be designated "non-smoking"—regardless of its prior designation.
"You might as well hammer a big yellow S on their front doors," said McKeown.
Those who smoke in "non-smoking" units will face a $100 fine. Repeat offenders will be subject to citations as high as $500.
The city has incrementally placed prohibitions on smoking.
In December, it voted to snuff out smoking in new hotels. The year prior, it banned smoking in common areas and patios of multi-unit residences. Four years earlier, it placed a ban on the and outdoor dining areas. At that time, lighting up on the beach was already prohibited.
"We are learning every day... how dangerous and how harmful second hand smoke is to us," said Mayor Richard Bloom.
Councilman Shriver said he and his colleagues have "dilly dallied" in waiting to adopt the smoking ban
As of November of last year, so-called smokefree housing policies have been adopted in 55 communities statewide, according to the American Lung Association in California. Details about each of the laws are included in a pdf to the right of this article.
Councilwoman Pam O'Connor joined McKeown in casting dissenting votes.
If the City Council approves the ordinance with a second vote, it will take effect 30 days after.