San Rafael Passes Country's Toughest Smoking Ban

You can't light up in downtown San Rafael unless you are walking with purpose.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012  |  Updated 11:30 AM PDT
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San Rafael bans smoking on downtown street.

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If you're looking to light up in San Rafael, it's time to stomp out your cigarette.

Council members in the health-conscious North Bay city about 15 miles from San Francisco have just issued the toughest ban on smoking in the country, much to the delight of the American Lung Association and to the dismay of heavy duty smokers and the pro-tobacco lobby.

According to the city clerk, the San Rafael City Council on Monday night approved a ban on smoking in duplexes, condos and other types of multi-family homes.

The ordinance also makes it illegal to smoke outside in downtown San Rafael, a quaint and affluent city in Marin County, except when the smoker is "actively passing on the way to another destination."

The clerk said the vote was unanimous. It was the second reading of the smoking ordinance that was first approved on Oct. 1.

The thing that makes the San Rafael ban tougher than other cities is the fact that it bans smoking in all apartment and condominium units. Bans in other cities only include a designation of "some" units as smoke-free.

Council members said during the meeting that they hope other cities across the state and the country follow their lead. Critics have said publicly that they feel these health laws are tyrannical.

California currently has the toughest smoking laws in the country, which includes a ban on smoking in cars with children, smoking in most work places and smoking in bars.

The San Rafael ordinance has been in the works since April.

Here are the new rules, according to the city website:

  • Outdoor dining areas
  • Within 20 feet of entryways to buildings or other places where smoking is prohibited, except while actively passing
  • Public events, but designated smoking areas permitted
  • Open space and recreation areas, such as parks, playgrounds, sports fields and courts, picnic areas, and dog parks
  • Service areas (bus stops, ATM and ticket lines, etc)
  • Sidewalks in Downtown, except while actively passing Within 20 feet of working construction crews
  • Duplexes and multi-family residential units (apartments and condominiums)
  • Indoor and outdoor common areas of residential units, with the allowance of designated smoking areas
  • 80 percent of all hotel rooms


San Rafael promoted a YouTube video produced locally and produced by Community Health Now that makes their case against smoking inside apartments:

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