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California Proposal Seeks to Make It Illegal to Smoke Inside Your Home

Update Date: Mar 04, 2013 01:36 PM EST

In many municipalities, it is illegal to smoke in restaurants, on playgrounds or in your own car with children inside. Now, the state of California wants to take smoking bans one step further and ban smoking tobacco inside people's homes.

According to the Huffington Post, free-standing homes, which make up two-thirds of residences in the Golden State, would be exempt from the law. The law would be levied against multi-family homes, like apartment buildings and condominium complexes, because many share ventilation systems, walls, ceilings and the like.

If the proposal becomes a law, it would be the most far-reaching smoking ban in the country.

"Californians should be able to breathe clean air in their own homes," Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), the legislator who has proposed the ban, said in a statement. "In apartments or condominiums, whenever a neighbor lights up, everyone in the building smokes with them. This is especially troublesome for children who have no choice but to breathe the secondhand smoke of their neighbors."

San Rafael, the largest municipality in Levine's district in northern California, instituted a similar ban in multi-family residences last year. It was the ninth municipality in the state to do so.

Landlords have the option to make their residences smoking-free.

However, Levine's ban would take the law statewide.

Smokers would be able to light up in designated smoking areas, as long as they were 100 feet away from a playground and 20 feet from housing units. The areas would be agreed upon by condominium residents, or designated by landlords of apartment buildings.

The proposal has been met with some skepticism. Some lawmakers wonder who would enforce the proposal. The violations would be met with a fine of up to $100, but currently the proposal does not identify who would respond to the complaints and write tickets, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Some argue that the ban disproportionately targets low-income individuals, who are more likely to live in multiunit housing and are less likely to have the resources to get help so that they can quit.

The law only refers to smoking tobacco and does not address smoking marijuana.

Smoking tobacco is on the decline in California. In 1984, over a quarter of Californians smoked cigarettes; that number is down to 11.9 percent today.

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