A new law will make San Francisco the largest US city to ban tobacco smoking inside apartments in an effort to curb the negative health impacts of secondhand smoke.
Cannabis smoking, however, will still be permitted.
San Francisco’s board of supervisors passed the ban on tobacco and e-cigarette smoking in apartments by 10-1 on Wednesday.
Originally only medicinal cannabis users were to be exempt from the indoor smoking ban, but the board voted to allow all marijuana smoking because state law prohibits cannabis users from smoking in public places.
“Unlike tobacco, which can be smoked outside on public streets, cannabis consumption is illegal in all public spaces,” residents wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “The proposed ordinance would thus leave apartment dwellers with no legal place to enjoy marijuana.”
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman agreed saying, “Tobacco smokers, unable to smoke in their apartment building, can go outside. Cannabis smokers don’t have that alternative.”
Dr Donald Abrams, an oncologist at the University of California, wrote in support that unlike secondhand tobacco smoke, “Secondhand cannabis smoke has not been proven to be harmful to humans. Nor has first-hand cannabis smoke been shown to cause lung cancer or other serious health effects.”
Others maintained a ban on cannabis in multi-unit buildings would amount to a form of racism or classism in a city where single-family homes are too expensive for poorer people.
“The proposed ban would disenfranchise our rights to consume cannabis and discriminate against those who can’t afford to live in a single-family residence,” apartment residents wrote.
The anti-smoking ordinance must pass a second vote next week before it becomes law. San Francisco will then join 63 California cities and counties with a ban on tobacco smoking in apartments.
The ordinance will be enforced by the department of public health, which may issue fines of up to US$1,000 (RM4,000) for repeat offenders.
Many view the new law as government overreach and questioned how the authorities planned to enforce the ban.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke causes more than 40,000 deaths a year in the US.