What You Need to Know About Santa Monica's New Smoking Law

Ban on smoking in apartments and condos is officially on the books. Here's what Santa Monica residents and landlords need to know about the new law.

Tenants who move into apartments and condos in Santa Monica after Nov. 22 will find it's illegal to smoke inside their units.

A new law banning tobacco and marijuana smoke in multi-unit housing was adopted with a second vote by the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday night and takes effect Nov. 23.

See also: Revised Apartment Smoking Ban Approved

The city has issued details about the new law, including important dates and how it will be enforced:

  • All new occupancies after Nov. 22 are non-smoking: Starting Nov. 22, 2012, all newly occupied units in multi-unit residential properties in Santa Monica are declared non-smoking. This includes all apartments and condominiums. Anyone moving into an apartment or condo in Santa Monica after Nov. 22 can't smoke in the unit.
  • Owners must start smoking survey by Jan. 21, 2013: Before Jan. 21, 2013, all landlords and condo homeowners' associations are required to begin a survey of current occupants, who must then designate their units either "smoking" or "non-smoking." For other deadlines and details about this process, visit smconsumer.org.
  • Current occupants grandfathered: Existing occupants may continue to smoke in their units if they designate the units as "smoking."
  • Results shared: Once the survey is done, landlords and HOAs must distribute the list of all units' smoking status to every occupant. THe list must be kept current, and given to all prospective renters and buyers along with a copy of the attached information sheet. (Also available at smconsumer.org)
  • Common areas, too: Existing Santa Monica law already bans smoking in residential outdoor and indoor common areas, including balconies and patios and any area within 25 feet of any door, window or vent.


Are there exceptions to the law? If a property is already 100 percent smoke-free, the designation process is not required. The law also does not apply to temporary special needs housing for people with disabling conditions.

How is the law enforced? Most compliance is achieved through communication. If that fails, and a person persists in smoking inside a non-smoking unit after getting a written notice, the person may be taken to small claims court and is liable to pay damages starting at $100. Any person can enforce the law.

Are property owners required to enforce the law? No. They are only required to conduct the survey and keep updated lists available. They are not required to enforce violations of the no-smoking rules.

What happens if a property owner refuses to conduct the initial survey and give out the required information? The owner can be prosecuted for violating the Municipal Code.

Can a tenant be evicted for violating this law? No. But a tenant can still be evicted if the lease prohibits smoking.

What about medical marijuana? If a unit is non-smoking, then medical marijuana can't be smoked inside. If a doctor specifically requests that a disabled occupant smoke marijuana indoors, and the occupant can't take marijuana in non-smoked form, then the smoking might be permissible under the "reasonable accommodation" standard for disabilities. For more information call the City Attorney's Office, 310-458-8336.


For more information, visit smconsumer.org, or call the City Attorney's office at (310) 458-8336.

Esther Schiller October 26, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Amazingly, most people who smoke want to quit (70% according to the American Lung Association). When environments are smoke-free, it helps people to quit. In 1988, the smoking rate in CA was about 23%. In 1995, the state passed a smoke-free workplace law and the smoking rate began to go down. Currently, the rate of smoking of CA adults is under 12%. Scientists have proven via air quality testing that tobacco smoke can actually move from unit to unit in an apartment or condo building. It moves through the plumbing, through baseboards, through the electrical system and even through microscopic cracks in walls and floors. People who don't smoke shouldn't be forced to breathe a neighbor's tobacco smoke just because they can't afford to buy a single family home.
Esther Schiller October 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Another amazing fact: Our organization has conducted thousands of surveys of apartment and condo residents in L.A. County including Santa Monica. About 95% to 98% of those surveyed agreed that breathing tobacco smoke is a health hazard. The survey results showed that about 1/3 of apartment and condo residents are breathing their neighbor's tobacco smoke. But most didn't complain. Why? We think it's because there is a belief that there is a RIGHT TO SMOKE. Fortunately, that's not true, although the tobacco companies who make money from ignorance and addiction would like you to believe it. People who smoke are not protected by state or federal fair housing laws. They are not a protected class. They are a consumer group like beer drinkers and pet owners. Yes, tobacco is a legal product, but where it is used can be regulated to protect the public health. There is nothing positive that can be said about tobacco use. It costs the nation over $90 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity. The costs of caring for people with smoking related illnesses who don't have health insurance are passed on to those who do have health insurance. So the cost of smoking affects everyone. Why should anyone defend tobacco or the results of this deadly product?
Paul Scott October 26, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Paul Scott said... To all of you who hyperbolically claim we are infringing on your rights to smoke, please get a grip. Even with the passage of this law, you can still smoke in your apartment. As long as you seal your home such that your smoke does not enter into your neighbor's home, then no one will know if you are smoking. Your neighbors really don't care that you smoke, they only care that your smoke enters their home. It's analogous to your neighbor playing drums loudly at 3 AM. If the noise comes into your home and disturbs the peaceful enjoyment of your own property, then you would have cause to use the police to prevent it from happening again. The drum noise does not cause cancer, but it clearly is an irritant that should not be allowed. Second hand smoke is not only an irritant, but it has been proven to cause cancer. To those who disagree, please explain why you feel it's OK to inflict your cancer-causing smoke into your neighbor's home. I really want to understand your logic.
SM resident October 27, 2012 at 02:54 AM
It's funny to hear smokers claim to have a concern over this ordinance pitting neighbor against neighbor. Where has that brotherly love been for all these years? Up till now, whenever a nonsmoking neighbor was suffering due to his/her neighbor's smoke, the smoker was always in the position of power. The smoker held the chemical weapon, causing physical harm to the tenants who had the nerve to "complain." The only power for a nonsmokers in these instances? Risk the health of themselves and their families--or move. Whereas the smoker could continue smoking and living in their unit, unscathed. This ordinance is about social justice. Let the courts decide who should win--not give sole power to smokers. Re: the Muslim analogy, the smell of cooking meat is not a known carcinogen; cigarettes, on the other hand, contain about 70 chemicals proven to cause cancer as well as other deadly diseases. This Nazi talk is just a bunch of scare tactics. Hitler did not respect freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and set to kill anyone who did not fit into his idea of perfection. Our Constitution protects all Americans from such evil. Thanks Esther, for clarifying that smokers are a consumer group, and not a protected class. Smokers are required to follow smoking laws just as pet owners need to follow laws concerning their pets. Go Santa Monica!
c hill October 27, 2012 at 05:05 AM
it is simple. you who have been manipulated by entities (i.e. professional investors) to such a degree that you cannot even stop smoking though you want to--want everyone else to "protect your right" to poison yourselves along with those who oppose the poison??-- absolutely absurd. what are you thinking?? do think about it -- 50, 100 years from now our descendants will be amazed at the gullibility of those who $bought$ into the "smoking = freedom" marketing platform (i.e. $cheme). smoking is also selfish, and tremendously short-sighted. and of course, everyone knows how hard it is to quit, and we and your children also know how hard the tobacco companies have worked to hook you --- we know that you have been deceived and scammed. so-called "protection of smoking rights" is pure nonsense, definitely nutty logic. the simple reality is that smoke is a moving entity that negatively affects the health of human beings. if, for example, you believe in the validity of DNA evidence, then you would logically believe in the similar scientific fact that smoke drifts and smoke is dangerous. (however, i understand that some disavow scientific evidence, and disagree with this.) this is a forward thinking issue. simply, the right thing to do is to protect all from the scientifically proven danger of moving, drifting smoke. it simply makes sense. no one is trying to harm anyone with this -- actually, the opposite is true.
john davidson October 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM
john davidson October 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Schuman's Expert Witnesses Testify in Secondhand Smoke Trial The plaintiff's expert witnesses spoke up on day three of David Schuman's case against his housing cooperative, Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI), for its failure to prohibit the nuisance created by his townhome neighbors, the Popovics', secondhand smoke. Courtroom and Plaintiff's Townhome Register Similar Carcinogen Levels But, an incident from Repace’s testimony Thursday came back into play Friday during cross examination. Goecke pointed out that on Thursday, while demonstrating the carcinogen monitor, Repace had measured the concentration of carcinogens in the court room — which is in a smoke-free building — and the amount he recorded there was similar to what Repace had reported recording in Schuman’s townhome in July of 2011. greenbelt.patch.com/articles/schumans-expert-witnesses-testify-in-secondhand-smoke-trial
john davidson October 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Scientific Evidence Shows Secondhand Smoke Is No Danger Written By: Jerome Arnett, Jr., M.D. Published In: Environment & Climate News Publication Date: July 1, 2008 Publisher: http://www.heartland .org/policybot/resul ts/23399/Scientific_ Evidence_Sho... myth-of-second-hand- smoke http://yourdoctorsor ders.com/2009/01/the -myth-of-second-hand -smoke BS Alert: The 'third-hand smoke' hoax http://www.examiner.com/public-policy-in-louisville/bs-alert-the-third-hand-smoke-hoax The thirdhand smoke scam http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com/2010/02/thirdhand-smoke-scam.html Heart attacks Frauds and Myths.. http://www.spiked-on line.com/index.php/s ite/article/7451/ TobaccoControl Tactics TCTactics aims to provide up-to-date information on the Tobacco Control Industry, its allies and those promoting the extremist anti-tobacco agenda that no longer targets just tobacco but ordinary adult consumers who use it. The website explores how this industry – with support from the pharmaceutical nicotine producers and government tax funds – influences and often distorts public health debates, using a whole raft of lobbying, public relations tactics and junk science. http://tctactics.org/index.php/Main_Page
Brenda Barnes October 27, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Wow. You can always tell who has no evidence on their side--the one that compares you to Nazis.
Pilot Dave October 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Welcome to The People's Republic of Santa Monica. You are now leaving the American sector. Вы покидаете американский сектор. Vous quittez maintenant le secteur américain. Sie verlassen jetzt den amerikanischen Sektor.
Glenn E Grab October 28, 2012 at 03:22 PM
there's no evidence that second-hand smoke, from an adjacent apartment, is anything but annoyng.....hysterical ravings notwithstanding.....BTW, nice one, Pilot Dave!!.....
martin marteen October 28, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Brenda what evidence do you have? Publish it.thx
SM resident October 28, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Secondhand smoke is tobacco smoke that affects a nonsmoker. Secondhand smoke can come directly from a cigarette or other lit tobacco; it may also be exhaled by a person smoking. Secondhand smoke is sometimes referred to as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), involuntary smoking, or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke contains the same cancer-causing and lung-damaging chemicals that affect smokers. Repeated exposure to secondhand smoke over many years can cause damage to a nonsmoker's lungs that is similar to that of a smoker's. Secondhand smoke is the most important risk factor for cancer among nonsmokers, far greater than other known cancer-causing substances. Secondhand smoke is most harmful to: Children and spouses of smokers, or anyone who lives with a smoker. People who spend most of their time in confined areas that are filled with tobacco smoke.
SM resident October 28, 2012 at 11:10 PM
In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report that outlined the dangers of ETS or "passive smoking." It found that ETS causes about 3,000 deaths from lung cancer each year in the United States. It also stated that passive smoking is an important cause of respiratory illness. Children who live with a smoker are especially at risk for health problems. Their growing lungs are at increased risk for illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia, tracheitis (inflammation of the upper airway) and asthma. And infants exposed to ETS are more likely to develop otitis media (middle ear infection). http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/specialreport/asthma/smoke.old.aspx A smoking neighbor has no right to inflict ongoing harm on his/her neighbors. It's not merely an "annoying" smell.
Brenda Barnes October 29, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Absolutely, SM Resident. Smoking, unlike obesity or other personal habits smokers like to relate to, harms people around you. I have lived next to people who smoked constantly on their patios, inflicting the damage they did not want in their house into mine. Smokers used to be arrogant and rude--not they are ridiculously illogical and self-pitiful, for the most part.
Glenn E Grab October 29, 2012 at 04:19 PM
obesity can also be a killer of innocent people.....what if the fat person falls on you?....
Jill October 29, 2012 at 06:34 PM
The most dangerous place for a child to live is near a transit corridor. I think what this law is saying is that if cigarette smoke can pass through walls, so can car fumes, fumes from jets flying from LAX and S.M. airport. Two days after I have paid $15 for a car wash, my car is covered with a fine dirty dust that I brush off. My parking is not covered. With the train to the sea, we are going to see more buiding along the colorado corridor. You can ban all smoking in Santa Parking Meter but you will not get clean air.
Paul Scott October 29, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Jill, this is why I drive an electric car. There is no tailpipe, no pollution at all. I also generate my electricity from sunlight, so there is no pollution from that, either. If you are concerned about pollution, as you should be, you should buy a car that doesn't pollute. There are many on the market today and they are cheaper than a gasoline equivalent car. Instead of being a part of the problem you so eloquently described, you can be a part of the solution.
Glenn E Grab October 29, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Jill, you couldn't be more wrong.....the most dangerous place for a child to live is in a country controlled by Muslim terrorists...
Glenn E Grab October 29, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Paul, good for you,but what if you want to go more than a few miles away from home?, or on a long trip?......you must have a slew of solar panels....
Paul Scott October 29, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I power the house and car on about 3.5 kW. You can buy that for under $10K, a bargain since it'll power you car and home for decades. My LEAF can travel just over 100 miles on a charge. There are hundreds of charge stations all over the place. Most are 240 volt, but some are the 480 volt fast chargers that can charge the car up in about half an hour. This covers virtually 100% of the typical America's daily driving needs. Zero pollution, no money going to the oil companies, and no wars fought over electricity.
Brenda Barnes October 30, 2012 at 06:55 AM
Brenda Barnes October 30, 2012 at 06:59 AM
I think you're right, Jill, but the smoke from people living right next to you is far closer, by definition, and stronger. It really does go through attics and walls, really. I know a woman who never smoked in her life but has emphysema from her husband's smoking (he has now quit, but too late for her). It is a very sad and painful killer.
Brenda Barnes October 30, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Where is there an electric car cheaper than a gas-driven one? If there were any, I would have had one long ago, but you have to have lots of cash to be able to afford electric cars or solar panels.
Brenda Barnes October 30, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Where is a Leaf financed selling for $10K? Or solar panels financed for $10K selling price, for that matter? People would buy both of those if they were as cheaply priced, or even anywhere nearly, and were financed as gas cars are and as the monthly payments to the power company are. People want to not pollute, but so far it is just for rich people.
fyou November 01, 2012 at 09:18 PM
What's to stop them from putting a camera in your house if they think you might be smoking? It doesn't sound like Santa Monica residents would have a problem with that either. You deserve each other. Have fun sharing herpes and wine coolers in your smelly, non-smoking bars. You have kicked most of the younger, more interesting and more intellectual people out of your city. The law is a violation of citizens rights, but you won't realize that until they limit your daily calorie intake, will you? You just put a meter on your own bed. I look forward to seeing you all eat each other when the wheatgrass runs out.
Hans Laetz November 09, 2012 at 05:28 PM
The Heartland Institute? Bwah hah hah hah. You mean RJ Reynolds and Exxon? Really?
Glenn E Grab November 09, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Paul, what if I want to drive to Denver?.....I've also heard that a 480 volt charge is really tough on the battery, causing it to die much earlier...
Glenn E Grab November 09, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I was talking about a few whiffs of smoke from 50 feet away....not about living or working next to a smoker...
Africa April 03, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Stop smoking!!!!!" Infront of doors and close by windows. There's children around . Geez , how hard is it?!


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