By Joshua Sabatini, Anna Latino
SF Examiner, January 15, 2013
The Board of Supervisors passed two new smoking restrictions Tuesday, joining a national trend toward discouraging smoking. San Francisco’s anti-smoking laws intensified Tuesday with the passage of a law banning smoking at outdoor public events and another requiring landlords to disclose the number of on-site smoking units in buildings.
Not surprisingly, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved both pieces of legislation introduced by Supervisor Eric Mar, who championed them as protecting the public from unwanted exposure to secondhand smoke.
The ban at public events – hundreds of city-permitted outdoor gatherings are held annually – also requires producers to say in advertisements that their events are smoke-free and to post no-smoking signs at entry and exit points. And where there is amplified sound, announcements must be made every two hours reminding patrons that the event is smoke-free.
Mar said the periodic announcements would be instrumental to the legislation’s effectiveness.
“This is largely a public-education effort that doesn’t have additional enforcement attached to it,” Mar said. He said the routine public announcements will create awareness and allow people to “self-patrol themselves for smoking.”
Another enforcement tool in the law is that The City could reject the permit applications of event producers if the smoking ban was violated at previous events.
Smoking is already prohibited in public parks, at bus stops and near entryways.
Also, landlords will now have to designate units as smoking or nonsmoking and disclose that information to tenant applicants and in real estate listings.
“Many prospective tenants are not told whether smoking is permitted in units within close proximity to the unit they are considering,” Mar said, adding that “disclosure also benefits landlords by reducing nuisance complaints and disputes regarding secondhand smoke.”
Owners of buildings with 50 or fewer units need to make the designations by December. Larger buildings have until December 2014.
Mar’s legislation is part of a nationwide trend in which cities are increasingly strengthening anti-smoking laws. In 2009, Belmont officials banned smoking altogether in apartments, and a similar ban was passed last year by the San Rafael City Council.
Advocates of the disclosure of smoking units believe the demand for nonsmoking units will ultimately phase out smoking units, making outright bans unnecessary.
Mar said he crafted the smoking ban for public events with the help of Breathe California and the Tobacco Free Coalition, and the apartment disclosure law was created in concert with the Mission SRO Collaborative and the San Francisco Apartment Association.