Out of Control Policy Blog

Upping the Anti- Ante

Public debates on smoking bans usually involve some confusing definition of terms–the first statewide smoking bans involved public schools, hospitals, administrative buildings, and the like. Then the definition of "public places" was re-written to include private restaurants and businesses, and finally, outdoor areas like sidewalks, parks, and restaurant patios where wafting smoke can cause offense. In many cases, local ordinances have become so nuanced smokers would be wise to carry a tape measure at all times to ensure that they are within the law. The city of Belmont, CA (pop. 25K) has finally clarified the definition of "public" with its newly proposed anti-smoking ordinance. The Alameda Times-Star reports today:

The council's request to ban smoking in all public places and multiunit dwellings is now in the hands of the city attorney, who will draft an ordinance that the council will be asked to approve. If passed, residents will be allowed to smoke only inside detached, single-unit homes. The ordinance is expected to become law in January or February, said City Councilman Dave Warden.
Belmont's move follows other city ordinances in California that tightly restrict smoking, including new laws in Dublin and Calabasas declaring smoking a public nuisance.

The nation's most severe smoking ordinance now effectively defines apartments, townhouses, and other private residences "public places." On the plus side, it is more convenient to cause a public nuisance from the comfort of your own home, anyway.

Skaidra Smith-Heisters is Policy Analyst


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