Already barred from lighting up in restaurants, theaters and the office, Californians may also be banned from smoking in their apartments under a proposal passed by the state Senate on Thursday.At first I thought this was bad news -- yet another paternalist intrusion on the right of individuals to make their own health decisions. But then I read how the so-called ban would actually work:
The measure would allow landlords to prohibit smoking in apartment buildings they own to protect nonsmoking tenants from secondhand smoke.I have two questions. First: Why was this not already legal? Landlords have the right to ban pets in their buildings; why not smoking? And second: Have we reached the point where laws that expand liberty must be couched as prohibitions in order to garner support?
It occurs to me that the new law might allow landlords to unilaterally change the terms of existing leases, by banning smoking by tenants who signed leases on the assumption that they could smoke. That would be wrong. But I can't see any problem with landlords being able to prohibit smoking in new leases.