WeHo Council Approves Partial Ban on Tobacco Smoking in Apartments and Condos

Anti-smoking advocates scored a partial victory on Monday night as the West Hollywood City Council in a 4-1 vote approved a partial ban on smoking tobacco in apartment and condominium buildings in the city.

The ban approved is a compromise which allows existing tenants to continue smoking tobacco in their units, but forbids tobacco smoking for all new tenants. However, the Council intends to eventually move toward having all multi-family residential buildings in the city be completely free of tobacco smoke, while still allowing marijuana smoke.

Under the terms of the ordinance approved:

  • Smoking tobacco or cannabis is banned in all common areas, indoor or outdoor.
  • Smoking tobacco is banned in all new buildings, but smoking cannabis is allowed. Similarly, vaping tobacco or vaping cannabis is allowed.
  • Smoking tobacco is banned with all new leases of existing buildings, but smoking cannabis would be allowed. Vaping is also allowed.
  • Smoking tobacco or cannabis by existing tenants is permitted, provided it is not already prohibited by the lease. As soon as the unit is vacated, it automatically becomes a non-smoking unit.
  • Smoking tobacco or cannabis on outdoor private patios or balconies of existing buildings is allowed.
  • Smoking tobacco on the outdoor private patios or balconies of any new building is banned.

The distinctions between tobacco and cannabis smoking are because marijuana has medicinal uses, which tobacco does not. Similarly, state law forbids smoking cannabis in public places like the sidewalk, but does allow tobacco smoking on the sidewalks. Thus tobacco smokers have options for places to go to smoke that cannabis smokers do not have.

An estimated 15% of WeHo residents smoke tobacco. There are no figures for the number of cannabis users.

In addition to these bans, the Council decided that it wants to eventually make all apartments/condos in the city tobacco-smoke free, regardless of whether the existing smoking tenant is still living there.

However, councilmembers did not decide on a specific date to implement that, instead making it a goal to work toward. The city will survey residents to get feedback before setting a date for the city to go tobacco smoke free.

“If we’re going to commit to a date certain, I don’t think we have enough information. I am concerned about our existing tenants,” said Councilmember Sepi Shyne. “I don’t think setting a time tonight is the right time to do it . . . but perhaps something for the future with more information and thoughtfulness put into it.”

The ban on smoking in common areas goes into effect 30 days after the ordinance is finalized, which should happen at the next Council meeting on Feb. 16. That means the common area ban would go into effect about March 17.

The requirement that smoking be banned in all new leases goes into effect 90 days after the ordinance is finalized, which should be in mid-May. The different in the two effective dates was to give time for notification to landlords and building managers.

If a person is caught in violation, a first time offense would bring a $250 fine, a second offense would bring a $500 fine and a third offense would bring a $1,000 fine. Each of those fines carries an additional $50 administrative fee.

Under the ordinance approved, violating the tobacco smoking ban does not constitute grounds for eviction.

Single family homes and duplexes are exempt from these ordinances, as are special needs housing facilities for people with disabilities, including substance addiction.

During the public comment period, various health advocates spoke in favor of the ban, mentioning the health risks of second-hand smoke exposure.

The only person speaking against the ban during public comment was resident and cannabis advocate Jackie Subeck who urged the Council to leave it to landlords and homeowners associations to decide whether to make their buildings smoke free.

Mayor Lindsey Horvath cast the only vote against the ban, but did not offer any explanation for her NO vote. In past discussions, she has been supportive of the apartment smoking ban and indicated at Monday’s meeting that she supported making the city smoke free.

RELATED STORY: West Hollywood Bans Sale of Menthol Cigarettes and Other Flavored Tobacco Products

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West
West
2 months ago

The anti-smoking campaign is big money financed and not entirely organic. These beaucrat lobbyists have to justify their own existence with the rest of us suffering the steady encroachment of the Nanny State. Beverly Hills looks nice but that’s not the City I chose to live in. We have branded ourselves as a marijuana friendly City, its essential to our economy and lifestyle. SO many years of marijuana advocacy undone by this misguided effort that betrays the Council’s view of WeHo citizens as insufferable little children who need to learn Mommy knows best.

Roy Oldenkamp
Roy Oldenkamp
1 month ago
Reply to  West

What Big Money?

Jamie Francis
Jamie Francis
2 months ago

This ordinance is long overdue! To protect people in this city, residents and workers alike, and people who are disabled or have pre-existing conditions. We all matter and have the right not to put ourselves in a residence where we don’t have the ability to breathe and not to be exposed to second and third hand smoke that experts in the medical community knows for certain that exposure to cigarette smoke and cigar smoke and vaping hard tobacco products causes cancer to people who are communally are near, or live in the same household or adjoining apartments and apartment complexes,… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Jamie Francis
Vigilant
Vigilant
2 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Francis

Well said. Smoking anything is a conscious decision.
Harming one’s self rather than enjoying healthy alternatives is a conscious decision.
Harming others and harming the planet is a conscious decision which is also conscious, depraved negligence.

“It is not merely one even of gross criminal negligence…It involves perpetration of a knowingly dangerous act with reckless and wanton unconcern and indifference as to whether anyone is harmed or not”. Wikipedia

Jay
Jay
2 months ago

Kudos to the four Councilmembers who voted to protect the health of all their constituents, more so when a deadly airborne respiratory virus that targets other lungs is ever present.

To my mind they have successfully threaded the needle for now- can re-evaluate in the future.

I am dismayed, however, that Lindsey Horvath opposed the motion and chose not to explain her decision.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
2 months ago

I am so saddened by council’s decision to permanently grandfather in all existing smokers (John D’Amico tried to introduce a date for the city to go smoke free, but no one else on council would support that). That means until those smokers move out or “move on” every single one of their neighbors will be subjected to toxic cancer causing secondhand smoke in their own homes. City Council, shame on you for not taking the steps to protect the health of our non smoking residents. Shame on you.

Jason K
Jason K
2 months ago

Not Good! Once the government starts controlling what you do in you own home it becomes a problem. Cigarettes are not illegal so you should be able to choose if you smoke them in your own home.

Gdaddy
Gdaddy
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason K

It isn’t your own home if it is an apartment. That is the difference. The 85% that don’t smoke don’t want to be subjected to 2nd hand smoke. My downstairs neighbor smokes cigarettes at 3am on his balcony directly below my bedroom and even with the sliding door shut I’ve been awoken by cigarette smoke filling up my bedroom. That isn’t fair for me. Sorry not sorry to be all for this continued crackdown of smoking in shared living places.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
2 months ago

Actually Beverly Hills has banned the sale of all tobacco products in the city. They do now have no smoking laws that apply to specific places & situations. However their goal is to ban smoking entirely in time

Vigilant
Vigilant
2 months ago

Would someone please make Cliff Notes From Beverly Hills…..”How To Run a City” available to our city council. Although not everything is correct at least they have bright & shining public commercial districts while we have what we have…just look at our gleaming SM Blvd. Folks can breathe in Beverly Hills while anywhere one walks in WH there are clouds of cannabis with shots of tobacco.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
2 months ago

Great news! 2nd hand smoke is as deadly as first hand smoke. People who insist that non smokers should have to breathe in their smoke are rude & selfish. Most people very much care about their health & the quality of the air they breathe. I believe Beverly Hills has already banned smoking anywhere in the city. That’s called progress. Carelessly encouraging smoking anywhere is like going back to the last century when all public places including restaurants, were unhealthy, smoke filled environments. So we shouldn’t be going backwards to those days, it’s common sense

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
2 months ago

The vast majority of pot smokers are just getting high. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

WeHo Poster
WeHo Poster
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

That’s the point of weed! That’s the fun of it! That’s why people do it!

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