San Rafael, Calif., Mayor Gary Phillips could have probably chosen a more apt metaphor for a new city anti-smoking ordinance touted as the toughest in the country. According to Mail Online Phillips introduced the new law with the observation “We are happy to blaze a trail.”
ABC News explains that the ban makes it illegal to smoke in your home if it shares a wall with another dwelling.
The law applies to owners and renters alike and covers condominiums, co-ops, apartments and any multi-family residence containing three or more units.
The ordinance also makes it unlawful to smoke outside in downtown San Rafael unless the smoker is “actively passing” on his way somewhere else (whatever that means).
Rebecca Woodbury, an analyst at the San Rafael City Manager’s office, told ABC News, “We based it on a county ordinance, but we modified it, and ended up making it the strictest. I’m not aware of any ordinance that’s stronger.”
Or, some might argue, more unconstitutional. “This proposed smoking ban actually intends to punish people for what they do in their own homes,” Thomas Ruppenthal of the city council opined to reporters. “I really feel this is tyranny.”
George Koodray, who heads a group of New Jersey cigar smokers calls the Metropolitan Society, argues that the law is not rooted in science. “Someone smoking in a sealed apartment endangers the health of others in the building?” he asked rhetorically, adding, “the science for that is spurious at best.”
Mayor Phillips defends the law, saying:
We’re most happy to be in the forefront of the issue because we think it will greatly benefit our residents and those visiting San Rafael, and we think it will set the tone for other cities as well.