Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SF suburb pushing smoking envelope

Belmont, Calif., may ban smoking in apartment complexes. and the like.

The LA Times reports:
Twenty years ago, a proposal to prohibit smoking in condos and apartments "would have been a radical and crazy idea," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Today, it's an idea that's gaining growing acceptance, precisely because the science has evolved and changed."

In the late 1940s, '50s and most of the '60s, people could smoke virtually everywhere they went, with a few minor restrictions related to fire hazards, he said. When smoke was recognized at the very least as an irritant and temporary health hazard, segregated smoking and nonsmoking sections cropped up everywhere, from airplanes to offices.

That was during much of the 1970s, '80s and '90s, he said, a period underscored by the idea that "smokers have rights." Then California banned smoking in restaurants and the workplace, and the boundary for permissible smoking tightened. Suddenly it was not OK to smoke indoors in public places.

When Calabasas voted last year to effectively ban smoking outdoors, the boundary moved again. But the city, Banzhaf said, deliberately chose not to address the smoke that drifts from private home to private home in the close confines of apartment buildings and condos — at least for the time being.

Which brings us to Belmont, "which is taking the lead," he said.

It is unclear just what the City Council will do when presented with the first draft of its new ordinance, whether the anti-smoking fervor on display in November will survive, what kind of history will be made, where the line will be drawn.

Expect lawsuits, eh.

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