City Bans Cigarette Smoking, Not Weed, In Multi-Unit Residences

While children eat the food that Michelle Obama tells them to and learn what Bill Gates teaches them, the Nanny State is now deciding what you can and cannot do in the condominium or apartment you purchased. In fact, Culver City wants to ban your use of a perfectly legal substance in your own home, that being tobacco or cigarettes. This smoking ban does not include recreational marijuana, however.

In Culver City weed delivery is legal, but smoking cigarettes is not. The same police that are refusing to arrest illegal immigrants are now ready to arrest you should you ever dare to light a cigarette in your own apartment. Perhaps there is one online marijuana dispensary in California too many for the city to discourage the newly flourishing industry, but the hypocrisy is frankly deafening.

The Council’s vote was 4-1 in favor of banning cigarette smoke at home. Jeff Cooperwas the sole dissenter. He considers the ordinance, although well intentioned, toothless and impossible to enforce. Enforcing a ban on an activity such as smoking in private residences will certainly not be an easy issue for anyone to resolve.

Public comments, both at the October 13 meeting and the initial discussion earlier, on August 11 last year, were mostly in favor of a ban. Several people from condominium homeowner associations voiced their doubts and fears about invasion of privacy and the creation of a “smoking police.” In Culver City, it is now illegal to use any substance within the walls of multiple unit residences if it creates any smoke.

Back on October 13, the Council acted as everyone anticipated it would and passed an ordinance that, by outlawing smoking in shared residences, would help to alleviate some of the health concerns associated with secondhand smoke. Large complexes, such as The Meadows and Raintree, were among the concerned homeowners associations.

Representatives from various homeowner associations suggested that issues regarding smoking be resolved between tenants, proprietors, and the associations themselves. Cooper believes the problem one for individual tenants to resolve. He asked one speaker, who complained about the effect of smoke on her health, why she did not simply move to another residence.

“It is a stressful process,” she answered. “I just want to feel I have a stable home. We moved to this location because of its proximity to work.” However, other Council members supported the anti-smokers. Andrew Weismann feels that although the ordinance has been “a long time in coming,” it is a very welcome one.

Jim Clare, another speaker, quoted the old saying that “the good is not the enemy of the perfect,” which means that, although the ordinance is not perfect as is, it is a necessary one that could be enforced by “voluntary compliance.” The bill itself calls for “private enforcement,” since City police do not have the time or even the basic resources to enforce it by themselves.

Multiple unit residences must install anti-smoking signage in their buildings, and they must establish smoke-free “buffer zones” within 25 feet of all doorways, windows, openings, or other vents leading into enclosed non-smoking areas. Prohibited substances include all tobacco products and medical marijuana, but not recreational weed. The ban also does not include vaporizers and E-cigarettes. Yet.

However, the Council noted that a conversation about how to handle the issue of e-cigarettes in public spaces is imminent. Homeowners and their associations have 18 months in which to amend their regulations and rules to comply with the smoking ban. They have a specified period to notify all tenants of the new smoking rules, as well as the date on which they will come into effect in their buildings.

Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells and Mehaul O’Leary both suggested there be an additional motion one year after the ban takes effect to permit a review, and to pinpoint any issues with the prohibition and correct them. Heather Baker, assistant City attorney, explained that a one-year review could easily be included in the basic ordinance.

As for exactly how private enforcement of a smoking ban would work and how long it will take to achieve, Baker pointed out the similar processes that occurred when Culver City banned smoking in restaurants and bars back in 2000. Business owners put up signage, their management teams went overboard warning patrons, and eventually, people complied with that law.

A spokesperson for the Culver City Police Department said that he did not remember the department receiving that many complaints about people not complying with the restaurant smoking ban, at least not close in comparison to complaints about loud noise, which he said, “we receive every week.” “Education and warnings,” Baker said, would over time force people to comply with this residential ban.

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