Sunday, June 01, 2008

An Anti-Smoking Regulation I Can Support

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.


Ran said...

I'm guessing you meant to link to this?

Would you support any consensual/contractual "ban," or only one on something that might affect neighbors?

Glen Whitman said...

Thanks, Ran -- I fixed the link. And to answer your question, I would support consensual/contractual bans even if there were no neighbors. E.g., if I were renting out a free-standing house (not an apartment), I should be able to specify non-smoking in the lease.

buzz said...

Is this something new in your area? I have seen no-smoking requirements on rentals for years. I assumed that since the owner, well OWED the property, that he/she could require the tenants not to smoke it up. Much the same way private businesses didn't need a law passed to make their businesses smoke free if they wanted to.

Anonymous said...

I have also seen leases with no-smoking clauses in them. Of course, I have never once seen such a clause enforced nor been denied a security deposit because of one.

From the aritcle:

"The bill is opposed by the Apartment Assn., California Southern Cities. The group said there is nothing in existing law preventing landlords from barring smoking in apartments."

So this is pure political grandstanding. Nothing to see here, move along. Either that or it shows just how ignorant the California legislature is of basic property rights.