San Rafael, Calif. passes own-home smoking ban

The ban applies to privately owned homes that share a party wall with another home. [ABC News] The rationale, per city official Rebecca Woodbury:

“It doesn’t matter if it’s owner-occupied or renter-occupied. We didn’t want to discriminate. The distinguishing feature is the shared wall.” As justification for the rule, she cited studies showing that secondhand smoke seeped through ventilating ducts and walls, even through cracks [emphasis added — W.O.]. “It depends on a building’s construction,” she said, “but it does affect the unit next door, with the negative health impacts due to smoke.”

San Rafael is in affluent Marin County just north of San Francisco. Woodbury said there had been hardly any opposition to the ordinance: “We have a very low percentage of smokers in the county,” she said. On proposals in Berkeley, Calif. to ban some smoking in private homes, see this recent post.

P.S. With end-of-year donation time coming on, I won’t be writing any checks to groups like the American Lung Association that support this sort of thing. Plenty of deserving health and research charities do great work while being respectful of individual liberty and property rights.


  • This item brought to mind one of my instructors in college who liked to ask classe the question “if all the air in the room were put into his briefcase, how much would it weigh?”. The answer was an amazing 900 lbs. So how much second hand smoke would migrate through a wall?

    What is alarming, but not that uncommon, is how idiotic are people who did well in school and in life.

  • New law contains an exception for medical marijuana, I suppose?

  • Government MANDATED HATE thru smoking bans and other anti-tobacco propaganda..How far does it go and justified by JUNK SCIENCE CLAIMS WITH NO PROOF SMOKING CAUSES ANYTHING IN ANYONE! NOTHING just statistical manipulations of epidemiology. Even the epidemiologists voted to keep doing the junk science because the grant money was just to good to pass up! .

  • Schuman’s Expert Witnesses Testify in Secondhand Smoke Trial

    The plaintiff’s expert witnesses spoke up on day three of David Schuman’s case against his housing cooperative, Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI), for its failure to prohibit the nuisance created by his townhome neighbors, the Popovics’, secondhand smoke.

    Courtroom and Plaintiff’s Townhome Register Similar Carcinogen Levels

    But, an incident from Repace’s testimony Thursday came back into play Friday during cross examination. Goecke pointed out that on Thursday, while demonstrating the carcinogen monitor, Repace had measured the concentration of carcinogens in the court room — which is in a smoke-free building — and the amount he recorded there was similar to what Repace had reported recording in Schuman’s townhome in July of 2011.

    As you can see even in a smokefree courtroom the same so called levels were read in Schumans own Kitchen in his house! The so called scientist was none other than a fellow prohibitionist and JUNK SCIENTIST,Tornado Repace!

    Talk about being laughed out of court……………….btw these prohibitionists create whats called ”risk assesment studies” Purely fictional and nothing more than statistical magic to create fear and bigotry against smokers!

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Multiple media outlets are reporting that Jerald Wayne Mills was shot over smoking in a non-smoking area of a bar in Nashville Tenn.

    One simply has to ask, How did the Murderer develop such a hatred towards smoking to start with.

    DENORMALIZATION TACTICS is how………..Markers of the denormalisation of smoking and the tobacco industry “Smoking, smokers and the tobacco industry are today routinely depicted in everyday discourse and media representations in a variety of overwhelmingly negative ways. Several authors have invoked Erving Goffman’s notions of stigmatisation to describe the process and impact of this radical transformation, which importantly includes motivating smoking cessation.”

  • I wonder, which has worse “negative health impacts”: (a) whatever amount of second-hand smoke manages to filter through a wall, or (b) a charcoal grill.

  • @ John Fembup
    “New law contains an exception for medical marijuana, I suppose?”

    The law bans “second hand smoke” not “second hand toke”. So, hooka hitters can breath easy (and deeply).

  • Harley rider 78 do you live under a rock. Smoking kills thousands of people a year. If you can’t fathom that then you need to educate your self.

  • Downside: Please find us ONE certificate of death that lists cause of death as SECOND-HAND SMOKE.

  • Not 1 Death or Sickness Etiologically Assigned to Tobacco. All the diseases attributed to smoking are also present in non smokers. It means, in other words, that they are multifactorial, that is, the result of the interaction of tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of factors, either known or suspected contributors – of which smoking can be one.

    7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18
    November 2004.

    “5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke – induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease.”

    In other words … our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can’t even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact … we don’t even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does.

    The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory.

  • Note the saying in engineering circles that the solution to pollution is dilution. There is a big difference between living in the same dwelling with a chain-smoker and sharing a party wall (it might be a cinder block wall, common for fireproof dwelling dividers, for all I know) with one. The amount of second hand smoke coming thru a party wall might be detectable as an oder, but injurious? I don’t think so.

  • Concur with Mike.
    The shock to me was the comment that curtailing this freedom, this unalienable right IMHO, was fine and dandy because most people are non-smokers and they weren’t complaining. Though I disagree with HarleyRider’s evidence and position, I (and therefore the government) have no right to impose this ban on him within his own home. This can be overturned if anyone is willing to pay the high price of taking it to court. I doubt anyone will until they are facing jailtime for smoking in their own home.

  • And, of course, no thread on a legal blog today is complete without the obligatory citation to ObamaCare:

    ObamaCare slams smokers with sky-high premium costs, could backfire, William La Jeunesse (Nov. 25, 2013)
    “ObamaCare may have backfired in its goal of making smoking so expensive that users quit, public health experts say, as sky-high insurance premiums force smokers to drop coverage altogether and lose smoking cessation programs along with it.”
    [rest of article at ]

    If the premium amounts cited in the article are close to correct, smokers won’t be able to pay the rent, anyway, and so will end up living (and smoking) in their cars.

  • The comments herein have been excellent in my opinion. Just a couple of loose ends:

    1) The problem with this case goes beyond prejudice against smokers. Anti-lead zealots wanted to ban bicycles for kids because of the lead in the tire valves. There is a mental vacuum about the concept of de minimis risk. Kids do not ingest or chew on tire valves!

    2) I have come across relative risk values of smoking to non-smo9king of 10 to 30. Anyways insurance companies take account of the 7 or so years of reduced life expectancy when pricing life insurance for smokers. it is true that the exact mechanism of smoking causing cancer is unknown, but the data clearly show that it does. And the data show secondhand smoke doesn’t.

    3.) As mentioned in 2, smoking reduces life expectancy by 7 or so years. Thus smokers require less retirement benefits, including heath care. There is no social justification for taxing smokers.

    4.) ObamaCare is essentially a going to community rating. You save underwriting expenses and marketing expenses. As a justice matter, the rating should apply only to age as there is a 10 fold or so difference in morbidity between those of age 25 year and those of age 65.

  • […] our friends over at comes the tale of the city of San Rafael, California which has banned smoking in some privately […]

  • Re William Nuesslein: “Anti-lead zealots wanted to ban bicycles for kids because of the lead in the tire valves. There is a mental vacuum about the concept of de minimis risk. ”

    Yes, claiming a number for e.g., the “probable cancers or per million exposed” (to any pollutant) has been a tactic of environmental groups for many years. One can tweak/refine this calculation to create a number for “child deaths,” “asthma sufferers,” or whatever segment of the population is deemed most vulnerable and effective in scaring the public.Upon examination, however, the number will often turn out to be based on exaggerations or cherry-picked data.
    Mr. N: Are you willing to sacrifice the life of even one little tire-valve chewer?

  • There’s also a connection between this smoking ban, which does not apply to detached single family homes, and the current leftist fetish for “density” in urban planning. To wit, the left wants us all to live in dense communities because density itself often supplies the so-called externalities which form the stated basis for regulations leftists would like to impose upon us in any circumstances. This is just one example.

  • There are sound reasons you can not have someone charged with a crime for blowing cigarette smoke in someone’s face. Because that person would have to prove harm. And if harm was being done by the act of smoking in a bar, as though it were a gun being fired, would police shoot the perpetrator rather than be harmed themselves? Many among the delicate and fragile league on the radical extremes here, would no doubt answer in the affirmative, because their hatred runs that deep, however in the real world people know a convenient lie when they see one.

    At some point this nonsense runs to and end. The end will depend on the type of people we are and we know where it went last time, during the war. Some causes are not worth the price of following and this reinvention of medical mafia driven, eugenic mindsets needs to be put down decisively.

    We are all much better than this.

  • The arguments herein fail, when you examine the evidence of “harms” There is no evidence nor could there ever be evidence, by the evaluation methods used to formulate emotional opinions. Emotional beyond opinions of credibility or none. Emotional because risk assessment is what it is. Risk is emotion. Harms and hazards stand aside of opinions, because they actually exist. Playing ping pong on the highway is a risk. The hazard or harm is what ends the game. Risk assessment is a measure of what you can be made to believe and it self perpetuates on every cycle it is reported, explaining why smoking bans have been allowed to be taken to places that would have seen as insane only a few years ago. The assessments of risk have never even reached the point that anyone could be harmed, by the smoke in a bar, unless you work in the bar for more than 50 years and everyone in attendance was taxed with chain smoking every working hour of the day. When people are being valued in a materialist fashion as more and less valuable according to the risks they impose on others, simply by being listed in a group or type, isn’t that environment specifically and ideally, exactly the environment that started the second world war?

    You and I have one document protecting us against arbitrary governments that document can only loose its power, when we can not resolve issues of comfort or security. What could better serve avoiding that deficit outcome than the usual method that protects us and informs us, under every other circumstance where such an impasse is presented?

    A sign on the door is all that anyone ever needed, The fact that a sign is not a significant part of this discussion, says a lot about the mindset and the promoters, of any form of smoking ban.

    They are, the them in “us and them”.