Belmont, California, located between San Francisco and San Jose, has become the first jurisdiction in the United States to bar some homeowners from smoking in their own domiciles. While states and localities across the country have steadily imposed ever-tighter restrictions on smokers, the action taken by the Belmont city council marks the escalation of anti-smoking fervor to a new level.
On Tuesday night, the council adopted an ordinance that declares second-hand smoke to be a public nuisance and extends the city's current smoking ban to include multi-story, multi-unit residences. Belmont and some other California cities already ban smoking in multi-residence common areas, but now the ban will be extended to residences that share a common floor or ceiling with other units.
Homeowners or renters will be allowed to smoke on their own property only in single-family homes and their yards. Dwellers in multi-residence buildings will only be able to smoke in "designated outdoor" areas of their complexes.
The new Belmont apartment-smoking ban will not take effect for 14 months, so that one-year lease agreements will not be affected. But the rest of the ordinance goes into effect in 10 days. It also bans smoking in indoor or outdoor workplaces, and in parks, stadiums, sports fields, trails, and outdoor shopping areas. Smoking on streets and sidewalks will be permitted, as long as it is not at a city-sponsored event or close to prohibited areas.
City officials said enforcement of the smoking ban will be complaint-driven.