New Precedent Could Affect Residential Non-Smoking Laws

Serendipitous legal circumstances may have contributed to the establishment of a new legal precedent in one northern California town located east of the San Francisco Bay; citizens of Dublin, CA may now be eligible to file temporary restraining orders to escape secondhand smoke.

102908 1743 newpreceden1 New Precedent Could Affect Residential Non Smoking Laws

(photo courtesy of Mia Mabanta)

From an article in the Contra Costa Times, we learned that an Alameda County Court judge granted a temporary restraining order to a couple who complained that their downstairs neighbor had violated a town nuisance ordinance by smoking near their residence.

The ordinance, passed two years ago, was originally designed to make it easier for small claims suits to be filed that pertain to secondhand smoke as a public nuisance. The couple, however, sought a temporary restraining order, much to the initial consternation of court.

However, after reviewing the evidence, which included the repeated attempts at trying to reach a compromise, documentation of couple’s allergies to smoke and the actual town ordinance, the judge saw it fit to grant the restraining order, which prohibits smoking within 25 feet of their residence or in any apartment that shares a ventilation system with their unit. If the neighbor violates the terms of the temporary restraining order, the couple can call the police to have the offender arrested.

This is quite an important development as far as smoke free apartments laws go. We have touched upon political intervention on behalf of smoke free apartments before, when State Senator Alex Padilla introduced California Senate Bill 1598, which would allow landlords the right to prohibit smoking.

The last action on that bill, according to the California Senate’s online legislative resource, occurred June 24th when the author, Mr. Padilla, canceled the first Senate hearing on the bill, after it had passed in the California State Assembly. Perhaps Mr. Padilla recognized that landlords already have that right and have no problem exercising it. In fact, we have related how in some cases, apartment management companies have found it advantageous to offer smoke free apartments.

What do you think? Where should the boundary between the right for someone to participate in legal activity in their own home and the rights of others to live healthy lives be drawn?

As soon as secondhand smoke is detected by someone who does not want to be exposed to it, should the smoker be forced to stop?

Take our informal poll below and let us know where you stand.

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