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New bill may ban smoking in apartments

May 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new bill may ban smoking in apartment buildings. Many are for the bill, however, smokers feel it violates their personal liberties. With tight quarters, shared vents and open windows at most apartment complexes it's an unavoidable dispute between smoking and non-smoking tenants.

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"One issue that I have a problem with apartments is the drifting smoke from unit to unit. And when my kids are visiting, it's very obvious it's going to affect little lungs like that," said Pete Mizera who is an non-smoking renter.

"To say I can't do something that's perfectly legal in my own home, it really strikes me offensively as an infringement of personal liberties," said smoker John Vigna.

The state Senate just sent a proposal over to the Assembly that would give landlords the right to ban smoking in rental units. Tenants could be subjected to a three-day notice to stop lighting up or risk eviction.

"It's our goal with this bill to clarify the law the we can, indeed, do this and hopefully resolve these disputes," said Monica Williamson from the CA Apartment Association.

The California cities of Calabasas and Belmont already passed similar bans because of the effects of second-hand smoke. Opponents say the proposal unfairly targets certain populations.

"The lowest income, families of color, people with lower education attainment, people with disabilities, people that are moving from homelessness into a rental are the most likely to smoke," said Christine Minnehan from the Western Center on Law & Poverty.

Restaurants, the office, a car with kids in it, smokers may see one more place in California they can't light up.

"I respect it. I feel like that's right. People smoke. People don't. You should respect that," said Shelly Carbonara who is a smoker.

"They shouldn't be telling me what I can and cannot do in my home," said Vigna.

The bill now heads to the Assembly. Opponents say they'll support it, if the ban doesn't apply to rent-controlled apartments and if tenants get 12-months notice of the new smoke-free rules.

 

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