Could Berkeley Ban Smoking in Single-Family Homes?

Chris Nichols
Yahoo News
Marlboro Gold and other Marlboro varieties of cigarettes are displayed in a Little Rock, Ark., store Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Altria Group's third-quarter profit more than doubled as the Marlboro maker paid out less in legal settlements and freed itself from charges related to paying off debt early last year. The owner of the nation's biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, posted earnings Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 of $1.39 billion, or 70 cents per share. That's up from $657 million, or 32 cents a share, in the year-ago period, which included a $874 million charge for a loss on early extinguishment of debt. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

If a city legislator in Berkeley, Calif., gets his way, more smokers in the Bay Area burg might be about to lose their ability to light up in one of the few places they still can -- their homes.

According to a report on The San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate, Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguin believes it's time to ban smoking in single-family homes if children, senior citizens or lodging tenants are also there. Already, a bid to prohibit cigarette smoking in apartments and condominiums is underway, but Arreguin wants to discuss going further.

"There's no doubt that smoking and secondhand smoke cause significant health problems," he said, according to the report. "I don't see why Berkeley shouldn't adopt some of the strictest smoking laws in the state. That's my goal."

Berkeley, home to the flagship campus of the University of California system and long known as a politically liberal bastion, doesn't allow smoking in parks, at bus stops or in commercial areas, the report noted. It's also banned with 25 feet of buildings that members of the public can access.

One of Arreguin's fellow council members, Susan Wengraf, is said to feel that the single-family home proposal is an overreach. "Our enforcement division is so overwhelmed right now. I think it would be very difficult to add more to their list," the report quoted her as saying. "I smoked for 10 years. It's not easy to quit. I feel for these smokers."

The report pointed out that the nearby towns of Belmont, Richmond and Walnut Creek have preceded Berkeley in instituting smoking bans for buildings with more than one unit, but not in homes for one family.

Smoking opponents have for years been pressing for tougher laws that would eliminate nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand smoke, and in many cases, they've gotten their way. For instance, you can no longer smoke onboard airplanes, while more recently, bars in many parts of the country have told smokers to take it outside. In New York, city council members have voted to lift the minimum age for buying cigarettes to 21. Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former smoker, has been pushing to make smoking a thing of the past in the Big Apple.

Berkeley's smoking ban plan would leave off a couple of things you might choose to smoke, the report says -- marijuana and e-cigarettes. Those, SFGate says, would be allowed anywhere.