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Anti-smoking advocates push Santa Rosa for apartment ban


Anti-smoking advocates emboldened by the passage of Sebastopol’s smoking ban for multi-unit dwellings are eying a similar ban in Sonoma County’s largest city.

Santa Rosa, which already restricts smoking in outdoor patios and public places, may soon be asked to take the ban indoors by restricting residents of apartment buildings and other multi-unit complexes from smoking inside their residences.

Clean-air advocates met with Councilwoman Susan Gorin, who was then the mayor, several weeks ago about bringing such an ordinance to the city, said Pamela Granger of the American Lung Association. They are in a preliminary stage of the process, meeting with the city’s largest apartment owners to gain support.

Once property owners are on board, Granger said, she and other groups plan to petition the Santa Rosa City Council for a ban that protects apartment dwellers from second-hand smoke.

Studies have shown that even when smoke remains inside a unit, second-hand smoke can be a health problem for neighbors, Granger said.

“There is no such thing as a place you can go where the second-hand smoke doesn’t have an impact,” Granger said.

Anti-smoking advocates will be pressing for strict bans covering 100 percent of units and covering tobacco and marijuana, unlike the partial bans in Rohnert Park and Sebastopol.

Rohnert Park requires 50 percent of existing units to be smoke-free by June 2011, and 75 percent for new construction.

Sebastopol’s City Council earlier this year passed a ban that covered 100 percent of units, but contained a controversial exemption for users of medicinal marijuana.

Granger said Santa Rosa should not allow similar loopholes because the dangers of second-hand smoke from both cigarettes and marijuana warrant a complete ban, she said.

The response from apartment owners has been good, she said. Studies show that nonsmoking units make good business sense because they are easier to re-rent and result in fewer complaints from neighbors, she said.

Granger declined to name the property owners she has met with, but residents of the Rosenberg Building in downtown Santa Rosa have reported that they’ve recently learned the entire building is going nonsmoking as of Jan. 1.

The American Lung Association has received numerous calls from residents in Santa Rosa and other cities inquiring about how to get similar bans imposed in their cities, Granger said.

Many are from people with chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma, she said.

For them, living in a building that allows smoking can present severe health risks, she said.

“They feel they are condemned to death slowly,” she said.

To the argument that such a ban would be an invasion of smokers’ privacy or limit their housing choices, Granger said no one is stopping them from smoking in their cars or other areas. She also noted many nonsmoking buildings have designated outdoor smoking areas.

They also have another option.

“They could quit,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com.

32 Responses to “Anti-smoking advocates push Santa Rosa for apartment ban”

  1. Steveguy says:

    Before Downtown Market nights, probably a gallon of lighter fluid is ignited to start hundreds of pounds of charcoal.

    But you can’t smoke.

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  2. Phil Maher says:

    What I really hate is when people use their toilets and vent all those sewer gases out the vents on their roofs. We need filters on every single one of them. I also hate it when people leave lights on after they leave a room. Everyone should have to install motion switches in every room. I hate it when people don’t recycle. We need people to go around and sort trash. I hate seeing dog’s butts. All dogs should be required to wear pants. I hate the smell of bbq-ed meat. Veggies only. I hate the smell of roofing tar. No more roofing repairs on City Hall. I hate the smell of diesels. No more SMART train……Ban them all. Hey, all these things infringe on my rights, my health, my environment, my psyche. Why should I have to tolerate any of them? Sounds absurd, or maybe your own habits were somewhere in that list, and you would be affected? Too bad. I have rights. As a matter of fact, if I kept going, I would eventually get around to mentioning how much I hate overly burdensome government intervention in places they have no business being. Who would regulate then? You want to live in your own little world? Guess what? In this thing we call society, you can’t.

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  3. Bradley Miller says:

    If everything that harmed other peoples’ health were banned what would that mean? It would mean that nobody could barbeque, use lawn mowers, smoke, drive cars, busses or trains, build buildings, roads or anything else. Pollution exists and cannot be completely gotten rid of.

    If everything that had a carbon footprint were banned it would mean the end of human existence and animals as well. Banning smoking in private residences is a warning signal that the government is turning into a police state. They want to know everything about us and control everything we do, even inside our homes. I, for one do not want to be controlled. This may seem like a small encroachment on our personal freedoms but it is symbolic of a movement toward a big brother type government.

    We, the people, do not have to let them enact this unjust ordinance in Santa Rosa. Smokers and non-smokers alike need to stand up and tell them at city hall that we will not tolerate this meddling into our personal lives. The one place where we feel safe to do as we please is inside our homes. If this ordinance passes, then the door will have been opened giving others the right to tell us what we can do in the privacy of our own homes.

    Non-smokers, would it kill you to close your windows or simply ask the smokers to go inside their homes to smoke? This is not something that we need the government to regulate. I’m sorry if you’re bothered but the world doesn’t revolve around your sensitivity to everything in the environment. There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from that little bit of smoke you’re complaining about.

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  4. granny says:

    I went to Germany and didn’t even think to ask for a non smoking room. BIG MISTAKE! You could swipe your finger across the leather couch and find cigarette debris. Since I hadn’t been exposed to cigarettes in many years, my body reacted and I ended up with a rash on my back and a deep respetory cough. My husband started to not feel well also.
    Cigarette smoke is a hazard that sticks to walls and you can’t just paint over it or wash it out. Grow up people. Go in your car but don’t kill me in the process!

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  5. cyclist says:

    I don’t disagree but we are giving the gov the opportunity do more of that right?

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  6. Grey Whitmore says:


    The Government ALREADY regulates just about everything you do and your kidding yourself if you don’t think so.

    Gas, electrical power, doctors, food, products, medicine, buildings, roads, travel, highways, street lighting, what your sheets are made of, how your food is processed, what shows you can see on cable, how you received your tv or radio, how the internet works …

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  7. sheryl judge says:

    I have lived in a couple apartments or condos in my day. None of them had heating or air conditioning that linked one unit to the other. If units here are like that, they are not up to code. All condos and apartments, by law, are to have fire breaks between them. If the hvac were connected, then there is no fire break. So does this second hand smoke seep thru walls or what?

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  8. cyclist says:

    @Grey Whitmore
    As they say in NY Forgit ’bout it. There are no simple solution to this. We get it from burning incense, hair spray, perfume etc. And hey what about the burning of fossil fuel, kerosene or diesel. It is harmful to everybody. The question is do we want the government to regulate how we live. Whether it is an apartment or a house. It is still a home. So I say no!

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  9. Grey Whitmore says:

    And another thing!

    From the LA Times: Overall, Californians remain significantly less likely to smoke than people in the rest of the country, with 13.1% of adults surveyed statewide saying they smoked last year compared with 21% of adults nationwide.

    Why do 13.1% of the population get to endanger the health of the other 86.9% of us?

    WHY? There NO logical reason what so ever! NONE!


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  10. Bradley Miller says:

    If someone suspects someone is smoking inside their unit, what will they do? Will they call the police? Will they try to look through their neighbors windows to be sure? A law like this will turn neighbor against neighbor. This is both a property rights and a privacy rights issue. If a neighbor thought they smelled tobacco or marihauna, is a cop going to demand to enter the apartment and have a look around? Aren’t citizens protected from unreasonable searches by the Constitution? If something as harmless as second hand smoke emenating from someone’s private home is a crime, just think of all the things that could become crimes.

    This is wrong on so many levels. For starters, marihuana smoke has been deemed a medicine and is legal for patients with a card. Will this force seriously ill people to leave their home in order to take their medicine? They may be bedridden.

    The people advocating for this are apparently incapable of figuring out that they can shut the windows on those rare occasions when the smoke escaping from their neighbors apartment is blowing their way. Oh my God, a little bit of polluted air has entered their lungs. Do they think that walking around town they’re not constantly breathing in noxious fumes? Until all air pollution is eliminated from our environment targetting smokers inside their own home is entirely unjustified. Keep the government out of our homes and out of our personal lives, thank you.

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  11. Grey Whitmore says:

    Sorry. Does not matter what anyone writes about rights.

    Second hand smoke is dangerous to others and NOT ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO HARM SOMEONE ELSE’S HEALTH.

    Period. End of discussion!

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  12. Skippy says:

    As long as Big Daddy Government allows tobacco to be sold legally so they can collect billion$ in taxes, we are safe in assuming it has no interest whatever in stopping people from smoking.
    If they honestly did, it would be banned.
    Government! Still your best friend forever!

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  13. Ron says:

    Would this ban Pot Smoke also. RIIIGGGHHTT!

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  14. Darrel says:

    Our government’s job is not to take away our freedoms, but to protect them. Why would anyone want to live in an Orwellian state? There seems to be a growing number of people who want everyone to live exactly like they do, because it is the law. The landlord should be able to make the rules for his private property.

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  15. sheryl judge says:

    The smell of Pathouli oil makes me want to hurl. Can we ban that too? It’s nearly impossible for me to drive thru Sebastopol or Cotati.

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  16. Lyn Cramer says:

    //Why can’t apartment complexes make the decision whether . . .//

    What a concept! Choice. Maybe restaurants should also be able to choose. Since most people don’t smoke, most would remain non-smoking. But a few would cater to those who do. If you don’t like cigarette smoke, don’t patronize businesses that permit it.

    Imagine, tolerance and diversity actually practiced, not just words without meaning.

    This was once recognized as America’s unique strength and attraction: individual freedom.

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  17. Dogs Rule says:

    Maybe we can have a general tax to pay for in-home cameras installed to observe what people are doing and tax them when we see them put up a kitchen shelf without a permit, smoke, drink Pepsi, smoke weed, or fail to recycle. It really bothers me when my neighbors throw chili cans in the trash and I want something done about it so I hope the government resolve this.

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  18. cyclist says:

    I am not a smoker and though I agree with Margaret de Faron points about smoke get into your living area. But unfortunately the offending odor not limited to the cigarette smoke. There is also the unpleasant smell of someone’s cooking. And what if the neighbor has a medical condition and need to smoke cannabis. We cannot have the government regulate how we live and to use such regulation to invade our home and privacy.

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  19. @naysayers says:

    Thinnk government shouldn’t have the right to tell smokers where to smoke? Stinky smokers shouldn’t thave the right to make me inhale their disgusting smoke! BAN ALL SMOKING IN SANTA ROSA!

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  20. John G says:

    Have we really gone this crazy? Why can’t apartment complexes make the decision whether or not they want to be smoke free and tenants can make their residential decisions accordingly? What is next, bake sales will be banned at schools?.. Oh, wait…

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  21. Margaret de Faron says:

    While I think a smoking ban is a terrific idea in principle,there are associated difficulties that have to be dealt with. Example: I live in a condo complex in an upper unit: living room in front overlooking the parking lot, bedroom in back overlooking my downstairs neighbor’s back yard.

    Downstairs neighbor does not allow smoking inside, so boyfriend goes out into the backyard to smoke; my bedroom is full of smoke. Closing the window doesn’t help in the summer when it’s hot and air circulation is needed and anyway, the smoke seeps in even with the windows closed.

    Other neighbors smoke in the parking lot (constantly when the weather is good); my living room is full of smoke.

    Believe me, these are not people who are going to respond well to being politely asked to move (I’ve tried).

    I’d say the ban has to be total in a complex or there’s a good chance the people who never smoked to start with are going to be the one’s suffering from smoke inhalation the most.

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  22. What's Next? says:

    I don’t smoke and think it is a nasty habit. My neighbors on each side of me smoke in their backyards, should I be able to tell them not to smoke on their own property? I would never presume that I have the right to control my neighbors smoking on property they own. If they were renters and the landlord had a no smoking policy that is a different story.

    Should my neighbors be able to restrict my Barbequing on my property?

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  23. Sonoma County Asthma Coalition—Sustainable Development masquerading as health concerns 08/21/2010

    Why is this important? Because it’s a seemingly innocuous group, with a ‘positive’ healthy message, that is actually a Smart Growth lobbying group. The group includes Michael Allen–Democratic Candidate for 7th Assembly District (California), under investigation for serious conflict of interest charges, and the Accountable Development Coalition, a communitarian group that demands payments from developers for not obstructing projects, and which inserts itself into the government process to crowd out actual community voices.

    The Sonoma County Asthma Coalition actually pressures for zoning changes, general plan development, and redevelopment to implement smart growth/sustainable development. This is UN Agenda 21 at work in a local community.
    Some of the issues they lobby for:

    * Using code enforcement (with police powers) to change from complaint-driven code enforcement to pro-active mandatory annual inspections of housing units

    * Advocating for the SCEIP program (Sonoma County Energy Independence), a boondoggle which has had a tremendously negative impact on the potential for refinancing all properties in Sonoma County (pop. 500,000)

    * Requiring mandatory ‘green building’ standards for Sonoma County.

    * Smoke-free housing ordinances or nuisance laws giving tenants affected by secondhand smoke legal recourse.

    The American Lung Association of California is a proponent of ‘smart growth’ and co-sponsored the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Florida. People have no idea that some of the so-called ‘neighborhood leaders’ dictating smart growth are paid lobbyists.

    Do you have a branch in your community? Have you taken a look at your local Lung Association? The following link takes you to the Sonoma County Asthma Coalition “Planning Healthy Communities” page.

    And, since you were wondering what the larger context is for this, take a look at the sponsors of a New Partners for Smart Growth conference—the purpose of which is to extol the virtues of sustainable Agenda 21 development. You’ll find the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the National League of City Managers, Fannie Mae, the US Defense Department, the EPA, Bank of America, the US Department of Transportation…it goes on.


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  24. Freedom Luvr says:

    I find it highly ironic that the large corporations in Sonoma County dump tens of thousands of gallons of toxic waste and these same “clean air” people as a jury find them not guilty but go after a person for making the choice to smoke. Free choice is almost gone in Sonoma County. SR the city designed for leaving.

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  25. Fiscal Conservative says:

    Wow! The red collective is at it again.
    What people do on private property is not the interest of our government.

    I’m not a smoker, but the freedom and liberty of Americans should not be trampled on by any city hall.

    Our current group of fanatics have power and control issues.

    Im sure those who have ‘smoking allowed’ buildings would have to buy a special permit from the collective and carbon credits for the Al Gore knotheads.

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  26. Grey Whitmore says:

    Sorry folks! Your wrong.

    Second hand smoke is a danger! NO ONE has the right to endanger the health of another for their own personal enjoyment (See drunk driving)

    Time to grow up!

    And yes little ones. Use your Google and you can find all sorts of studies showing the dangers of secondhand smoke, and nary a one saying there is no danger.

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  27. US Citizen says:

    The started with the Happy Meals… Event the 1st Lady said it, parents can not be trusted with the nutritional health of their children….

    Now I dont want kids smoking. But how free is our country becoming.??? Scary where it might end.

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  28. sheryl says:

    This is only the beginning. Next the health Nazis will be telling us what we can and can’t, eat and drink Welcome to the old Soviet Union!

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  29. john says:


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  30. Beef King says:

    Apartment buildings are not restaurants. If a building owner wants to have cigarette smokers as tenants they should have that right without the NANNY government sticking their nose in the business.
    If a prospective tenant does not want to live with cigarettes near them they can live where the facility is advertised as a non-smoking building.
    What a bunch of nanny bs.

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  31. Lyn Cramer says:

    Once upon a time anti-smoking advocates insisted their intent didn’t extend beyond ensuring that smokers understood fully the health risks of smoking. That goal has long been reached.

    Is everybody happy? Not a chance. Those determined to impose a puritanical health regime on all of us won’t be satisfied until anyone not adhering to their standards will be harassed, taxed, and regulated into submission.

    Little known fact: the profit on a pack of cigarettes is approximately 10 cents. The per pack taxes collected by the state of California and federal government total $1.88. Now, who’s in the business of profiting from cigarettes?

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  32. Mike Higgins says:

    The writing is on the wall for those who have still not received the memo. Smoking used to be the cool thing to do. Now the only cool (and convenient) thing to do is quit. You used to smoke to be part of the in-crowd. Now you literally get sent outside in the cold and rain if you want to continue this dirty, dangerous, disgusting habit. Need a New Year’s Resolution for 2011? GIVE IT UP!

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