By Jonathan McDonald
A new bill authored by democratic California Assemblyman of the San Rafael district Marc Levine would ban people from smoking in their own homes. When I first became aware of this bill I was shocked and thought it was a large invasion of personal privacy, but with more information I found on the bill, the more accepting I became.
The bill will have no impact on those living in single unit unattached homes, only on those living in apartments and condos. With the dangerous and cancerous effects secondhand smoke has on the body, smoking bans have been happening in California for some time now, according to the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), “Recently, California experienced an advance in tobacco control policy–Assembly Bill 13 (AB 13). The bill prohibits smoking in the workplace and was extended to bars, taverns and gaming clubs on January 1, 1998. This smoking ban protects Californians from secondhand smoke, as well as discourages tobacco use. Despite the intentions that underlie the spirit of AB 13, compliance with the letter of this law has been an enforcement challenge.”
Multiunit living can easily be seen as living in a public environment with such living conditions. With the sharing of air vents plus cigarette smoke easily passing through doors and into hallways, there is no way to stop the cancerous smoke from moving throughout the apartments or condos. This ban is completely understandable when taking into account just how dangerous secondhand smoke is. In a 2010 story from USA Today, very damaging statistics were given on secondhand smoke: “Secondhand smoke sickens millions and kills more than 600,000 people worldwide each year, including more than 165,000 children under 5″ USA added, “Children are particularly vulnerable. About 40 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke, along with one-third of adults. Kids exposed to secondhand smoke are higher risk of a variety of illness, such as asthma, pneumonia, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome. Almost half of all deaths from secondhand smoke are in adult women, while 28 percent are in children.”
While I understand that many people, especially smokers, would say such a bill is infringing upon their rights and privacy, the same point can be made for the people who will unwillingly have to breathe in secondhand smoke because of someone else’s habit.
With many people living in multiunit buildings suffering from illness, raising families or just trying to take care of their own health, I completely understand them being upset and not wanting to suffer because of someone else’s personal decision.
Assemblyman Levine stated: “In apartments or condominiums, whenever a neighbor lights up, everyone in the building smokes with them. This is especially troublesome for children who have no choice but to breathe the secondhand smoke of their neighbors.” I realize that allowing people to smoke in apartments and condos infringes on the rights of people who don’t smoke living in these buildings, I completely understand the reason for such a bill. It’s not to attack smokers; it’s to protect non-smokers and keep its dangers as far away from them as possible.