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Secondhand smoke contains all the 4,000 toxic chemicals found in cigarettes and is actually more dangerous than the smoke inhaled with a cigarette since there is no filter available for secondhand smoke.
In 2006, the California EPA Air Resources Board classified secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant with no known safe level of exposure, even in outdoor settings.
There are too many sources of shared air for smoke to stay contained within one unit.
Vents are not the only cause of contamination. Aggravating amounts of smoke can easily passes through pipes, floorboards, and even walls.
Even if the smoker opens the windows or smokes on the balcony, the smoke drifts to the other units through the outside air, preventing the non-smoking tenants from open their windows without exposure to smoke.
Non-smoking tenants with or without a pre-standing ailment, such as asthma or a heart condition among others, can become medically ill from the exposure.
Smoke-free units require less cleaning, which requires less time and money from management. Restoration firms estimate a $15,000 cost for smoking units.
Tar and cigarette particulates will attach to all surfaces within the unit, including walls, carpet, and blinds. These can often not be removed in spite of cleaning efforts.
Fire insurance premiums can decrease and will reduce the risk of financial loss due to fire.
Remember, a smoke-free policy does not mean that you cannot rent to smokers or are only limited to non-smoking tenants. It only means that smokers are not allowed to smoke in units and outdoor common areas. Smokers have become increasingly used to "no-smoking" areas. Complexes are allowed to restrict smoking anywhere on the premise, but others may also create an outdoor designated smoking area at least 20 feet away from operable doors or windows or other areas where smoking is prohibited.
The Marin County Tobacco Disease Control Program has received hundreds of phone calls from stressed and aggravated tenants and landlords dealing with drifting smoke problems.
Many responsible, non-smoking tenants have seriously contemplated or ultimately decided to leave their apartment because of the aggravation caused by secondhand smoke.
Non-smoking policies eliminate the tension between tenants and with management and reduce otherwise unnecessary and unwanted turnover, creating less stress and saving money for landlords and tenants.
There is no constitutional right to smoke. Banning smoking is not discrimination
Landlords have the legal right to ban smoking in all or part of the rental property, including individual rental units.
''No Smoking" restrictions are the legal equivalent of "No Pets" or ''No loud noises"
The reality is that a landlord will more likely face a lawsuit from a frustrated and medically injured non-smoker than from a nonsmoker. Today's legal climate tends to favor nonsmokers in these kinds of disputes.
If someone is injured by tobacco smoke and takes legal action, your liability insurance may not protect you because tobacco smoke is a pollutant that has been categorized by the California Air Resources Board as toxic with no known safe level of exposure.
The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco Programs website offers resources, assistance, and an online report form. They will offer assistance to residents and property owners/managers with signage, letters, advice, template rental lease agreements, and articles to help with the transition to 100% smoke-free housing. Questions can be directed to the Tobacco-Related Disease Control Program office at 415-473-3020.