No Smoking Allowed: Tough New Rules On Where You Can Light Up

A proposed change in city law would bar smoking at outdoor concerts, restaurant patios, even inside apartments and townhouses. Is it needed to keep Petalumans healthy or does it go too far?


Petaluma is considering updating its tobacco control ordinance that, if passed, would restrict smoking at bus stops, theater lines as well as all multi-unit dwellings, including inside people’s own apartments.

On Monday, the city council will take up discussion of the proposed changes, which would also require all Petaluma hotels and motels to make at least 80 percent of their rooms smoke-free.

Many cities in Sonoma County have tightened laws on where people can smoke, but Petaluma has so far lagged behind. It did restrict smoking in public parks in 2009, although it’s not clear how well enforced the law is.

But when it comes to smoke in outdoor dining areas, bus stops, outdoor concerts and apartment complexes and other dwellings with shared walls, Petaluma has no laws on the books.

The new proposal, say advocates, will ensure that residents are not exposed to second-hand smoke.

“As harsh as it sounds, there are no actual legal rights for smokers because they aren’t a constitutionally protected class,” says Pam Granger, a spokeswoman for the local chapter of the American Lung Association. “That being said, if a property is large enough, a designated smoking area is an option.”

Over 237 California communities have updated their smoke-free ordinances in light of studies that show that there is no safe level exposure to second hand smoke, even in outdoor areas, according to Granger.

“Children, the elderly and disabled and low-income and other disadvantaged individuals and families are the most likely to suffer from breathing secondhand smoke because they are more likely to live in multi-unit housing, unable to afford a single family home,” she said. 

What do you think about the proposal? Is it a step in the right direction? Or should people living inside apartments be able to smoke if they choose? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of the story we made a mistake about requirements for hotels and motels. The proposed ordinance would require all hotels and motels to make sure that at least 80 percent of their rooms are smoke-free. Patch regrets the error.

Lisa Ohman December 01, 2012 at 06:25 AM
my vote: Yes -update and toughen-up the tobacco ordinance. If you want to smoke in your own home, then Buy your Own home....with the money you'll be saving...not to mention saving/protecting your own health and the health of others (your own children??really?)..along with the $$ Everyone will be saving by not having to subsidize your healthcare by self inflicted illnesses and illness caused to others....win/win... I could go on & on...trash-cig butts/emptying packaging tossed on the ground..who cleans up??you??...fires, loss of life/property damage, expense of careless smokers tossing lit smokes from vehicles etc.., cost and risks of the 911 emergency responders/volunteers/good samaritans to help (said people) ...smoking is a very self centered activity...not much thought to others....START THINKING ABOUT SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOURSELVES!!!!!
Frankie2011 December 01, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Well, I guess it's time that we initiate "Smoker Rights". Let's face it folks - there are people who smoke. It's a very difficult habit to break. What about the low-income living in the worst parts of the neighborhood. Living with outdated ventilation systems, lead paint, asbestos, mold, etc. Oh yeah, not to mention having to sign a release of liability to live with those conditions. Tell me, what next - oh yes, forgot to mention I can't have plants on a downstairs patio railing because of a safety issue. Isn't it really the fact that the railing is rotting and they don't want to fix it? Oh, I better take it down, so I don't get evicted for "Just Cause". Same with the smoking issue - we had to sign a document that says if we smoke, we would be evicted. Is this legal? I guess if you don't smoke it's legal.
Frankie2011 December 03, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Are you God? Pretty Scary! What made you Holier Than Thou? Tell me. I'm pretty sure you were a spoiled little rich girl from somewhere other than Petaluma. Why don't you go down to the local Food Kitchen and have a nice lunch and day! Heaven forbid! Your attitude is rotten and I feel pity on your soul.
Mary Jo Wheeler December 04, 2012 at 01:55 AM
As a former smoker for many years (43 yrs!), it is so easy to see from these posts who is a smoker and who isn't. I would have been outraged at any kind of smoking ban and yelling about my "rights" as a smoker - IF I were still smoking. Now i am 100% FOR the ban; I learned the hard way, I gave myself have emphysema. I am now actually ashamed of how I behaved as a smoker: selfish, not caring if anyone else was exposed to my smoke. Now even a whiff of cigarette smoke hurts my lungs.
jmsstuff December 04, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Sorry about your situation, Mary Jo. I smoked for about 10 years and quit about 40 years ago, so far no sign the folly has caught up with me. I also sympathize with Frankie2011. It is VERY difficult to stop smoking. I see today that the ban has passed. A good thing but it will be hard on smokers who will be legally banned from smoking in or around their homes (condos and apartments). It is interesting that the ban was not extended to single family dwellings. Must have been too politically tough to do? Especially in old Petaluma where homes are packed tight it is not far or hard for smoke to drift from a private home or backyard into the home next door.


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