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Petaluma City Council OKs tough smoking restrictions



Petaluma smokers soon will have fewer places to light up.

The City Council late Monday night unanimously approved broad new smoking restrictions, including banning smoking in multi-family housing units, such as apartments and condos, and from certain outdoor spaces, including private balconies, decks, courtyards and bus stops.

Meant to protect nonsmokers from exposure to second-hand smoke, the ordinance was the result of efforts by advocacy groups, such as the American Lung Association. It is similar, although somewhat more stringent, than no-smoking rules Sonoma County has implemented during the past year.

In a last-minute change, the council went even further than supporters proposed, banning smoking in hotels, motels and temporary lodging facilities. Initially, the proposed ordinance required 80 percent of rooms be nonsmoking.

The changes will go into effect in phases beginning early next year.

“I would love to see this strengthened even more. . . . Maybe we could go further,” said Councilwoman Teresa Barrett, whose comments were echoed by at least two other council members.

The city’s current ordinance already restricts smoking in indoor common areas of shared housing, such as laundry or community rooms, but not inside private living spaces. The new law bans smoking inside private residences that share at least one wall with another unit, such as duplexes, apartments and condominiums. It doesn’t affect residents of single-family homes.

In crafting the ordinance, police met with managers of 16 large apartment complexes, none of whom objected to the changes, Police Chief Pat Williams said. Many already prohibit smoking.

No speakers objected to the changes Monday. However, the North Bay Association of Realtors raised concerns in a letter.

“The ordinance would prohibit property owners from using their property for an otherwise lawful activity,” wrote Stephen Liebling, chairman of the group’s governmental relations committee. “In practical effect, this could mean the exclusion of smokers from purchasing condos in the city of Petaluma.”

Councilman Chris Albertson raised questions about a condo owner’s private property rights but said he was satisfied the ordinance passes legal muster.

Petaluma resident Robert Caruso said that in his four- to five-mile walks each day, he is forced to cross the street to avoid “unpleasant and unhealthy” smoke.

“They’re blowing smoke at what is the real issue,” he said of any opponents. “It’s a public health issue.”

The ordinance shrinks smoking zones further from a 2009 tightening of the law that banned smoking in city parks.

Smoking also now will be banned at bus stops and taxi stands, outdoor dining and recreation areas, public open spaces and parking lots, business entryways and at public events, except where there are designated smoking areas. It will require business owners to more closely monitor cigarettes and keep sales displays out of the reach of children.

The ordinance defines the increasingly popular “electronic cigarettes,” which emit not smoke but a vapor, as a smoking implement covered by the new law.

Beginning early next year, hotels and motel rooms will be required to be smoke-free. Lodging operators didn’t object to the proposed 80 percent requirement. No one from the industry spoke at Monday’s meeting when that rule was expanded to include all rooms.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

11 Responses to “Petaluma City Council OKs tough smoking restrictions”

  1. BigDogatPlay says:

    Seems we were recently celebrating the end of the progressive mantra on the council. Apparently the outgoing yayhoos still have a bit of manure left up their sleeves to force upon us.

    Prohibiting by council fiat what is an otherwise lawful within the confines and comfort of their own home based on specious medical research and the complaints of a handful of whiners…. and that “passes legal muster”? Really, Mr. Albertson. Perhaps you should have stuck to fighting fires because you have no sense for the law and for equality under it.

    And Mr. Caruso… if you have a problem with a smoker lighting up in a public place, cross the street. Be thankful for the opportunity to add a few more steps to your healthy routine. After all, as a free man living in the greatest republic on earth you should rejoice in that opportunity, rather than forcibly imposing your own narrow view of morality on the population as a whole.

    Oh, but wait, you already have, haven’t you? So will you next campaign against people smoking in their own single family homes on the off chance that you may happen to walk by such a home some morning?

    As a former smoker myself I wish everyone would quit, if for no other reason than to selfishly cut the state off from the hundreds of millions of dollars in sin taxes on tobacco. But as an American who believes deeply in personal freedom I do not feel it up to me to regulate the personal health choices that someone else makes.

    I just cross the street……….

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  2. Skippy says:

    Participate in “Red Tag Nation” revolution. Every time the thugs of Big Govt tell you not to do something, do it anyway.
    When they warn you, laugh in their faces.
    Then tell them to leave now or face the logical consequences.
    Can’t smoke in my own home? Screw you.
    Stuff it, officer and go pound sand.
    When they “Red Tag” your home or business, put a light on the tag and invite the neighbors over for a red tag party.
    Don’t ignore the bullies, celebrate them.
    Then slam the door in their faces.
    Collect the whole set of “you can’t do that” red tags!
    What will “The Man” do if half the town/county/state/nation is willfully ignoring them?
    Big Govt will not go away unless we kill it.
    Ridicule is an effective weapon against tyranny.
    For now….

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  3. susan clark says:

    Liberal California government wants to tell everyone what they can and can’t do. Pretty soon you won’t be able to bacon or ham in public less it insults anyone.

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  4. Jim says:

    Does the ban cover “medical” marijuana? Or is that an exemption because it is a “medicine”?

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  5. 0 Representation says:

    I’m not a smoker. But WOW! Seriously? What’s next? Oh yeah..Road diets, bigger pot-holes that go without repair and obviously a continued HUGE disconnect with the city council. They aren’t worried about being sued. I’m beginning to think Petaluma is no longer just Pot-hole-luma… it’s Sue-aluma. Question for the City Council: JUST WHO DO YOU THINK YOU WORK FOR? The obvious answer is: Just yourselves with your very own agendas.

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  6. James Bennett says:

    “Citizens vote to ban freedom restrictions”…

    Buses, no.

    Your own home?

    Is a bong a “smoking implement”?

    Just wondering.

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  7. StarsUponThars says:

    echoing what Phil Maher said, it makes absolutely no sense to ban the ecigarettes and call them a “smoking implement”. ecigarettes do not create a public health problem, and are generally used by smokers trying to cut down or ween themselves off of smoking. they do not create any kind of scent or smell, and the vapor dissipates very quickly.

    i would think that any city or business who is genuinely concerned about the health consequences of smoking cigarettes would support the use of ecigarettes, within reason, both for the person using it themselves and for the bystanders.

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  8. Joyce Garcia says:

    Big Government overstepping it’s powers once more….deeming what private property owners can allow on their property….silly people in support of this ban…..why do you hate individual freedom?

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  9. Over Easy says:

    I’m OK with all of the public restrictions but in private Condos? Nope.

    The taxpayers of Petaluma are now on the hook for a long and expensive federal lawsuit of which they are guaranteed to lose.

    There is ample existing case law on this very issue and it is shocking that their legal council did not advise them prior to this. If they were smart an immediate about face on the private property would be in order.

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  10. Phil Maher says:

    What doesn’t stand to reason is that those “electronic cigarettes” are considered a “smoking implement” under the new ordinance. It’s my understanding, based on how they’re advertised, that they emit nothing but harmless water vapor. So, is the council trying to eliminate a decidedly harmful second-hand substance, or are they trying to regulate an physical action that they don’t necessarily agree with, regardless of it’s having no substantiated “public health” consequences? If those cigarettes do only in fact emit water vapor, then why not ban fog, clouds, evaporation from the foul-smelling slough they call a “river”…? And why stop at smoking, what about fireplace smoke with countless more particulates than cigarettes, especially those fake logs? And then car exhaust, fragrances that some might find objectionable, barbeques, restaurant grills, stinky trashcans, sewer vents on your roof, dog poo…bad breath? Where does it stop? Just wondering.

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  11. Diana Johnson says:

    I think this is ridiculous. Too much control and rules. Ban smoking indoors is fine, but outdoors? Why not just outlaw tobacco altogether? Close down all the smoke shops. Make it a crime. Then we can have the jails filled with outlaw smokers…lol Jeez its just crazy! And yes Im a smoker at the moment. We are losing more and more rights in this country, and it started with the seat belt laws. Soon we will be told what we can eat, who we can and cant associate with, etc. sigh

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