It goes too far. Such regulation of behavior inside one’s home is, to say the least, discomforting. Radio personality Ronn Owens stated it clearly, and I absolutely concur. So much do I agree with him in fact, that I called in to his show and expressed my support for his logical and refreshing viewpoint.
I’m not a cigarette smoker. There’s my occasional cigar, outdoors of course, but this is beside the point. Like Ronn said of himself, I do not enjoy cigarette smoke around me, and I’m glad to be rid of smokers in restaurants and other enclosed public places. Thankfully we no longer have smoke on an airplane, for example. Still, in this increasingly hostile climate of ever-further-reaching restrictions on where smokers can legally light up, the city of San Rafael is plainly overstepping.
Non-smokers certainly have the right to be free of what’s considered so objectionable and hazardous to our health. The dangers of second-hand smoke are clearly valid. This is why numerous other understandable and tolerable smoking restrictions have already been passed, much to the benefit of our clean air, happy lungs and of course, fine wools. Still, there’s a line, and San Rafael has crossed it.
Various multi-unit housing complexes throughout the state and country already designate smoking and non-smoking units. Landlords and tenants agree to smoking– or not as the case may be– in their lease terms. Violations of such designations and terms should always be enforced. At the same time, there should be allowances for those who choose to smoke, especially on and/or inside own property, even with shared walls, to do so. Instances of disapproving neighbors are understandable and should be handled on a private, individual basis, with full advance disclosure of what buildings and units are and are not permissible smoking spaces. As such, San Rafael’s new ordinance strikes me as not only unnecessary, but downright invasive and offensive.
Not that this Marin County community’s tyrannical stance is unusual or unheard of elsewhere; slightly lesser yet still controversial laws exist in such California cities as Calabasas and Burbank. However, by applying to 100% of shared-wall residences indoors, for owners and renters alike, San Rafael’s law is indeed the toughest.
Then comes the issue of enforcement. Just what kind of community mindset is San Rafael creating? Do smoker residents simply ignore the law and do what they must to avoid being “caught”? Do neighborhoods turn into a collection of spies and tattle-tales who call the authorities every time they see or smell a cigarette? Does the city really want to waste its time and energy responding to such complaints? I have a feeling the reported 7.5% of San Rafael smokers will continue to smoke however they can get away with it, as well they should. As such, the new ordinance could eventually be considered a meaningless technicality.
Again, no smoking inside a restaurant or bar: A good thing. No smoking inside one’s own home: An affront to personal space, liberty and privacy. I’m with you, Ronn. While I welcome smoke-free spaces, I find the new reality in San Rafael very disturbing. And then there’s the hope of this setting a precedent? I’d rather see this new law, along with any copy cats to come, go up in smoke.