California Town Bans Smoking in Duplexes

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 18, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Being a smoker in California just got a lot harder since the town of San Rafael passed what is one of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the country.

Residents of San Rafael are now banned from smoking in any multi-family homes, including duplexes and condominiums. The measure was passed unanimously in the town of about 57,000.

The new measure is in addition to other rules against smoking in public and private places. While smokers may oppose the added restrictions, there may not be much they can do legally.

The intent of the measure is to improve public health and safety. Secondhand smoke is a still dangerous and leads to the death of many adults and children every year, reports NBC News. A strict smoking ban is the only way to prevent that kind of harm.

At least one San Rafael resident turned out to oppose the ban. "I really feel this is tyranny," Thomas Ruppenthal told the council before the vote.

There's a delicate balance between what local government can do to protect public health and homeowner's rights to be free in their own homes. Generally laws that are as narrow as possible to meet a public health need will survive a legal challenge.

San Rafael's law could fit that standard even though it is very broad. Because it only affects homes where secondhand smoke could affect non-smoker homeowners - those with multiple families - it is relatively narrow.

In contrast a law that banned smoking in all homes, even single-family dwellings, would likely have a harder time if challenged in court.

The new regulations are strict but they're not out of place in California. San Rafael is the ninth municipality to adopt anti-smoking regulations that ban smoking in multi-family homes.

But the San Rafael law goes beyond smoking in family homes, reports The Inquisitr. It also bans smoking in outdoor dining areas, entryways, public events, open-space recreation areas, at service stops, sidewalks downtown, and 80% of hotel rooms.

The measure leaves smokers with few places to go in San Rafael. But the city is proud to 'blaze a trail,' says Mayor Gary Phillips, and they're hoping others will follow.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard