Proposal to Ban Smoking in Apartments Gets Pushback from Cannabis Advocacy Group

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 yquarker@weho.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.

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Liz
Liz
3 months ago

I think they should ban cigarettes not marijuana smoke cuz it’s horrible and it doesn’t cause lung cancer if you do it in the privacy of your own place what’s cigarette smokers they should be in their whole own building altogether me as a mirror on a smoker does not like cigarettes and can’t be near secondhand smoke of cigarettes but herb on marijuana does not cause lung cancer only cigarettes do

Liz Harriton
Liz Harriton
3 months ago

They should ban cigarette smoking I don’t smoke cigarettes and cigarettes bother me a thoracic surgeon said he’s never had no one come before him that smoked marijuana only cigarettes . I agree with Banning cigarettes not marijuana as it is not harmful I as a marijuana smoker do not like cigarettes and comparing cigarette smoke too marijuana is different and it does not cause lung cancer only cigarettes do. Please do not ban marijuana it’s natural. Completely different than cigarettes actually I can’t be near cigarettes and I’m a marijuana smoker cigarettes affect my heart I agree with Banning… Read more »

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
3 months ago

This proposal — as it applies to cannabis — flies in the face of the city’s values. It would prohibit private, state-legal conduct in a private homes with no compelling reason to do so. In doing so, it would make it impossible for many people to use the medicine they depend on to manage cancer and AIDS-related wasting and nausea, pain, sleeplessness, spasms, seizures, and other serious symptoms. Smoking cannabis in public (other than costly cafes that aren’t practical for regular treatment) is illegal. Even first-hand cannabis smoke is not linked to lung cancer, COPD, and the other serious health effects of risks… Read more »

Vigilant
Vigilant
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen O'Keefe

Enlightened individuals, medical professionals and many highly respected cancer centers utilize TCM with exceptional results. Thousands of years of Acupuncture, Herbs and Tui Na do not disturb your friends and neighbors with offensive smoke nor do these treatments become habit forming. Individuals do not become habitual users dependent on their properties. The optimum goal is a balanced body mentally, physically and emotionally. One can learn how to become proactive and invested in their own maintenance rather than feeling hopeless and helpless. You may not be aware that many Chinese doctors have particular expertise and specialties in and dedication to particular… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 months ago

I wonder if the Council members who vote for this measure will return political contributions from the marijuana industry; if the second hand smoke is so bad it would be immoral to keep the cash. As a non-smoker I don’t really have a dog in the fight but it seems that in the past there has been concerns about the potential of evicting hundreds of long term tenants from West Hollywood. It would seem easy to send out a mass mailing to let everyone, tenants, condo owners, all have a chance to give input. I suspect a lot of people… Read more »

Bill G Skywatcher
Bill G Skywatcher
3 months ago

If West Hollywood, after spending years fight FOR medical cannabis passes this ordinance, WeHo becomes a place to AVOID, punishing people who can’t afford to buy their own homes.

Just where are people supposed to use medical marijuana if they can’t do it where they live, since they can’t use it in public?

Vigilant
Vigilant
3 months ago

Could the City invite Greta Thunberg to address the City and City Council on the benefits of advocation for clean air and the dangers of carcinogens in the grand scheme of Global Warming?

The City of West Hollywood could actually demonstrate their attempt to be in the lead on this. A clean, smoke free, cannabis free 1.9 sq mile city would be an accomplishment. Much easier to achieve than if one were living in Manhattan/

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
3 months ago

Will be interesting to see how this goes. They want the cannabis revenues and boast how great it is but not the smoke that comes with it. Like having your cake and eating it too. Would be nice to see them think about the unintended consequences of their actions and positions for once.

hopeful
hopeful
3 months ago

I find smoking to be disgusting. I do not in any way support evicting smokers from all condominiums and apartments in West Hollywood. There many ways to limit the bad effects of smoking in buildings without punishing so many people.

Vigilant
Vigilant
3 months ago

This is the 21st century and a time for the City of West Hollywood to demonstrate an authentic, demonstrable commitment to climate and environmental concerns. While a demonstration of leadership is not anticipated certainly a good faith showing of consciousness and action is required by the City Council in unanimous agreement.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
3 months ago

Secondhand smoke from combusted marijuana )”SMS” contains fine particulate matter that can be breathed deeply into the lungs, which can cause lung irritation, asthma attacks, and makes respiratory infections more likely. Exposure to fine particulate matter can exacerbate health problems especially for people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or COPD. Significant amounts of mercury, cadmium, nickel, lead, and chromium are found in SMS, as well as 20 times the amount of ammonia and 3-5 times more hydrogen cyanide in marijuana smoke than is in tobacco smoke.  In 2009, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added marijuana smoke… Read more »

Jerome Cleary
Jerome Cleary
3 months ago

I think this has to do with the landlords not wanting to deal with the damage smoke does to the inside of the apartment, the walls, the carpeting, the blinds, the curtains, etc. Plus the liability for second hand and third hand smoke that is a cancer causing liability.

Glenn
Glenn
4 months ago

How did pot gain the accolade of being totally innocuous? Smoke is smoke, a collection of airborne particulates and gases emitted when a material burns. It is a pollutant. Pot smoke is not a magical gas-less and particle-less substance. And the smell is annoying. We do compare it to skunk….