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California Town Where Residents Cannot Smoke in Their Own Home

By Allison Halliday | November 25, 2013

We are all familiar with bans on smoking in public spaces, something that is welcomed by non-smokers, but one California town has taken things much further, passing a law that makes it illegal for residents to smoke in their own home, if it shares a wall with another property. San Rafael, a town in California recently passed stringent new laws that could be described as being the toughest anti-smoking laws in the country.

The ban came into effect on November 14, and means it is illegal for anyone to smoke in a property that shares a wall with another home. This affects apartments, co-ops, condominiums and multi-family residences, and applies equally to owners and renters. According to the article in the ban is based on a county ordinance that has been modified to increase its strictness. There are already cities that have less severe smoking restrictions in place, including Walnut Creek and Tiburon in California, and Cambridge in Massachusetts.


© nmcandre -

© nmcandre -

The thing that makes this band so unique is the fact that it prohibits smoking in any home that shares a wall with another property, regardless of whether it's owned or rented. Studies have shown that second hand smoke can seep through the ventilating ducts on walls, and through any cracks in the property. The extent to which this happens does depend on the construction of the building, but if it affects the property next door than is likely to have a detrimental impact on the occupier’s health.

A study carried out in 2011 by UCLA found that property owners in California had to pay approximately $18 million each year to clean apartments that had been rented by tenants who smoked. Officials in San Rafael have faced very little opposition to the introduction of the ban as the county has a very low percentage of smokers.
It's something that is increasingly being enforced by developers and property owners, as in June the Related Companies banned smoking in all of its rental properties throughout 17 states, affecting some 40,000 homes. Apparently this ban has been popular as increasing numbers of people want to live in smoke-free environments, and demand for such properties is exceeding supply. In New York City no one under the age of 21 can even buy tobacco.

Elsewhere in the nation others aren't so convinced in the efficacy of such a ban, and believe it has come about since so many people disapprove of the habit and want to restrict it as opposed to those being concerned about health. They also question the studies on exactly how smoking in one apartment can affect the people in the next-door apartment.

Allison Halliday is a Realty Biz News contributing writer. She handles International Real Estate and is a seasoned blogger.
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