Health Department Helps Landlords Navigate New Secondhand Smoke Protections Law
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Contra Costa multi-unit housing owners working to comply with a new law that expands secondhand smoke protections now have access to new resources from the county health department to help them.
The Tobacco Prevention Project of Contra Costa Health Services created the Landlord Tool Kit to help landlords and developers of Multi-unit housing properties in unincorporated Contra Costa County meet the terms of secondhand smoke protections regulations that took effect January 1.
The new regulations, passed by the County Board of Supervisors, prohibit smoking in all new multi-unit housing units and on balconies, decks, patios and carports of new and existing multi-unit housing. Landlords must also now include lease terms that make smoking in non-smoking areas a violation of the lease. The law applies to apartments and condominiums with four or more units in unincorporated parts of the county.
Public Health's Tobacco Prevention Project Manager Denice Dennis said the new law aims to prevent the adverse health effects from secondhand smoke drifting into people's homes. "Drifting secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing accounts for more than 60% of the complaints our office receives," she said. "Many of the calls are from senior citizens, parents with young children, and people with health issues that are made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke."
With these changes, smoking is prohibited in the following areas of multi-unit housing: within 20 feet of doors, windows, air ducts and ventilation systems; in all indoor and outdoor common areas, like laundry rooms and swimming pools; in all new units; and on all balconies, patios, decks and carports. Landlords must disclose to tenants where smoking is prohibited, and may designate all existing units as non-smoking. They must include lease terms that state that smoking in non-smoking areas a violation of the lease. In addition, landlords must post "No Smoking" signs and not allow smoking in prohibited areas.
Secondhand smoke is a designated Class A carcinogen and can cause cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that even occasional exposure to secondhand smoke causes immediate damage that can lead to serious illness or death.
The Landlord Tool Kit contains a brochure that outlines the new requirements, as well as downloadable signs, sample lease documents and steps to make a property smokefree. It is available free at www.cchealth.org/topics/tobacco/landlords.php or by calling 925-313-6216.
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