Lolita Lopez & Hernan Vasquez
A 4-2 vote during Tuesday's city council meeting made Santa Monica's already restrictive smoking rules even tighter. New tenants of the coastal city will not be allowed to smoke in their residences unless they designate them smoking. Some residents say the ordinance goes too far but consumer protection groups say it's a step toward better public health. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on July 11, 2012.
Smoking is already banned at beaches, parks, restaurants and near buildings in Santa Monica, but Tuesday night the city council sought to expand that prohibition and voted 4-2 to ban smoking for all new tenants of apartments and condos inside their residences – with one exception.
“It also requires existing residents to designate their units as smoking or non smoking and from then on it will be prohibited to smoke in a non smoking unit,” said Adam Radinksy, head of the Consumer Protection Unit in Santa Monica.
The coastal city’s smoking bans date back almost two decades and Radinsky – along with other supporters of the ban – say the measures are in the interest of public health.
“People have come to testify to city council about asthma problems, people who had no prior health problems who developed health problems because their neighbors smoke,” he said.
Wayne Jackson, a smoker, says Southland residents breathe in pollution all day – pointing to a bus passing by as a “health issue.”
“I think it's a little too much control,” he said.
Jennifer Jones – who exercises in her apartment – describes smelling her neighbor's cigarette through the walls and vents.
“It’s not like a light smoke; it's really heavy,” Jones said.
Still, she has concerns with the new ordinance.
“I really don't think they should be telling people what to do if they are paying for the place they're living in,” Jones said.
Other cities have taken similar measures. Pasadena will make all apartments, condos and townhouses smoke-free by 2013 – a move Santa Monica is also looking into.
Radinsky expects that within months of living under the ordinance, residents’ behaviors will shift and there will be a “great improvement in public health.”
But residents against the law say behavior is a matter of personal choice.