You don't have to live in the San Francisco Bay Area to see how extreme smoking bans are born: tune in live (online) at 7:30 tonight and watch deliberations on the latest iteration of the now-infamous Belmont smoking ban. Since it was daylighted in November 2006, the City of Belmont has gotten a lot of attention for their proposed smoking ban, which would have been the most restrictive in the countryâ€“extending past the pre-existing ban on smoking in California places of employment (including bars and restaurants), to virtually all outdoor areas (whether public or private), and to private indoor areas such as apartments, hotels, townhouses and condominiums and possibly cars. Mayor Coralin Feierbach insists Belmont wasn't trying to make headlines with the proposed ban and notes, "Other cities are going to start passing us by."
Among those cities could be Oakland, where tonight the Public Safety Committee is reviewing options to add two notable provisions to their smoking ordinance: declaration of secondhand smoke as a public nuisance, and banning smoking in all new multi-unit housing built in the city. (Presumably, this means that people who wish to smoke at home will never be able to live in any apartment or condo built after 2007.) Put your bandwidth to the test and watch it live at the same time as the Belmont vote or read the proposed ordinance here.
Provisions in both bans go beyond the "model" ordinance promoted by Berkeley-based Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, who incidentally also have handy online maps of smoking restrictions throughout the country. The California Department of Health Services has a good database on smoking and smoking cessation efforts as does California's Clean Air Project (CCAP). I highly recommend putting these resources to useâ€“after all, if you pay tobacco taxes, you helped to fund them!
Read on for the late-hour update/rant.