The City of Milpitas is expanding its smoking ordinance, which already prohibits smoking in parks, on trails, and in outdoor dining areas, to include multi-unit housing, entryways to buildings that ban smoking, public events, and service areas as smoke-free zones.
The decision, which received unanimous approval from the City Council Tuesday night, adds Milpitas to a growing number of cities across Santa Clara County that have banned smoking in public areas.
The council first proposed the idea for the new law last March, leading city officials to survey residents on the effects of secondhand smoke. Of the 125 residents who responded, 45.16 percent said they had been exposed to tobacco or marijuana smoke in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. Of that number, 21.78 percent said they noticed secondhand smoke drifting into their home often or always, while 41.13 percent said they noticed it sometimes.
“I really commend the work our city is doing with the county in ensuring that we are putting public health at the forefront,” Mayor Rich Tran said at the meeting. “In my family, there is a history of tobacco use and even a history of family members living in multi-unit apartments, and so I think this will be great for our residents’ public health.”
Under the new rules, smoking –– which includes cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipes, e-cigarettes, and marijuana –– will be prohibited within a 25-foot radius of entryways to buildings that are already smoke-free. Smoking will also be banned at public events like farmers’ markets and street fairs, as well as service areas such as ATMs, ticket lines, bus stops, and shelters.
Multi-unit housing, which is defined as two or more attached residences including apartments, condos, and townhomes, will also have new smoking restrictions. Smoking will be prohibited in all outdoor common areas, 25 feet around doors and windows, inside multi-unit housing, and on balconies and patios. For multi-unit housing, the law will become effective six months after its adoption to allow property managers to get up to speed.
Several clean-air and smoke-free groups supported the ordinance at the council meeting.
“By now, we’ve all heard the science, and we’ve all known the evidence that shows secondhand smoke exposure is really harmful and potentially deadly,” said Vanessa Marvin, the co-chair of the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Santa Clara County. “Children, the elderly, and the disabled are our most vulnerable citizens, and they’re also the most vulnerable to secondhand smoke exposure.”