The West Hollywood City Council on Monday will consider enacting a ban on smoking and vaping inside new or newly leased apartments, a ban that already is getting some pushback from cannabis advocates.
The Council also will consider banning smoking and vaping in enclosed common areas of apartment and condo buildings and prohibiting smoking in parks. If approved, the proposal would have the city create a registry in which would be listed all apartments designated as non-smoking.
The proposed ban has been under discussion since 2017, when the city’s Rent Stabilization Commission recommended it. The City Council considered it in July of last year. A proposal on the March 16 agenda was put on hold until this coming Monday’s meeting.
In a memo to the City Council, the city’s Department of Public Works notes that the city prohibited smoking tobacco in outdoor dining areas and other public areas in 2011 and has taken steps to reduce the access of children to tobacco. Yet the city still has a low ranking from the American Lung Association.
“While the city earned a grade of “C” on overall tobacco on overall tobacco control, it earned an “F” on its smoke-free housing policies,” the memo says. “This is due to the absence of city policies regulating smoking in apartments, condominiums, or residential common areas.” The memo cites evidence that second-hand smoke has harmful health effects, causing heart attacks, lung cancer, and serious asthma issues.
The memo cites similar restrictions in other cities. One of the most restrictive is Beverly Hills. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, it prohibited smoking in all indoor and exterior common areas of multi-unit properties and inside all multi-family units, including condominiums. Tenants who smoked were given one year before the ban took effect on their units. The smoking regulations applied to tobacco smoke, electronic cigarettes/vaping devices, and cannabis smoke.
City Councilmember John Duran is questioning the ban because of its likely impact on those who smoke cannabis products. Duran has noted that under state law it is illegal to consume cannabis in public places. If the city were to ban smoking cannabis inside apartments or condos, “wouldn’t this amount to a ‘de facto’ ban on cannabis consumption citywide?” Duran has asked.
CA NORML, a non-profit organization that has advocated for reforming laws that restrict access to cannabis, objects that a blanket smoking ban would unfairly affect those smoking cannabis by treating it like tobacco.
“Unlike tobacco cannabis has been found not to cause lung cancer, heart disease, or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), even when smoked firsthand.” CA NORML argues.
And it notes that the state of California has deemed cannabis an “essential” medicine, which has allowed cannabis shops to remain open during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“This makes it inconceivable that West Hollywood would afford its citizens less freedom to consume cannabis than it does tobacco, which has no medical purpose,” says CA NORML.
CA NORML also argues that a ban that covers smoking cannabis in multi-unit residential buildings, which make up 73% of the city’s housing units, would be socially inequitable.
“The current measure would allow only the minority of West Hollywood residents wealthy enough to live in single-family homes to legally consume cannabis. This is directly contrary to West Hollywood’s values of equity and inclusion.”
The City Council’s virtual meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. The city advises that residents “may view the City Council meetings from your computer, tablet or smartphone. City Council meetings are broadcast live on WeHoTV on Spectrum Ch. 10 in West Hollywood and AT&T U-verse Ch. 99 in Southern California, and are streamed live on the city’s website at www.weho.org/wehotv and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/wehotv. WeHoTV programming is also available on multiple streaming platforms, including Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku. Digital streaming platform viewers can easily find programming by searching for ‘WeHoTV’ within the search functions of these services.”
Anyone wanting to comment on an item on the Council’s agenda is asked to submit the comment by 4 p.m. on Monday using a form found online here. Those comments will be forwarded to Council members. Those who wish to call in and comment during the meeting are asked to email City Clerk Yvonne Quarker at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 4 p.m. on Monday to be added to the speaker list. Include your name, telephone number and the item you want to speak on. Then, 10 minutes before the start of the meeting, dial (669) 900-6833 and enter meeting I.D. number 924 5862 2275# to be put on hold until the relevant agenda item comes up for discussion.