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Secondhand Smoke


We have known for at least 25 years, since the 1993 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Risk Assessment, that secondhand smoke is a Group A Carcinogen, known to cause cancer in humans. More recent research reveals that there are immediate health risks, including asthma and heart attacks.

Despite this  information, 58 million people in U.S. remain exposed to this deadly health hazard at home, in the workplace, and in public places.

  • There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Smokefree air is good for employees, customers, and business.
  • Ventilation is not an effective solution.
  • Many people remain exposed, despite progress with smokefree laws.

(American's Nonsmoker's Rights Foundation, 2019)

Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Law

Effective July 1, 2019

Multi-Unit Housing in Unincorporated Contra Costa County is required to be 100% smoke-free effective July 1, 2019, including all owner-occupied units.  The Contra Costa County Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance was amended in March 2018 to prohibit smoking in multi-unit residence dwellings including apartments, condominiums, townhomes, and any multi-unit housing residence with two or more dwelling units. “Smoking”, includes use of tobacco products, electronic smoking devices (e.g., electronic cigarettes, vape pens, Juuls), and marijuana.

This ordinance applies to the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa.

Protecting families, workers, and the community from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke remains a high priority for the Tobacco Prevention Project and Tobacco Prevention Coalition.


Smoking (including the use of a hookah pipe, medical marijuana or electronic smoking device such as an e-cigarette) is prohibited in the following outdoor areas:
  • All areas within 20 feet of the doors, operable windows, air ducts and ventilation systems of any enclosed worksite or enclosed places open to the public, except while passing on the way to another destination;
  • In outdoor dining areas at bars and restaurants (including outdoor dining areas at places of employment and in outdoor lounges);
  • On public trails and in public parks;
  • In service areas. (Service area means an area used to receive or wait for a service, enter a public place or make a transaction, including ATM's, bank teller windows, ticket lines, bus stops and taxi stands);
  • In public event venues (such as stadiums, fairs, pavilions, farmers markets); and
  • On the campus of all County-owned or leased properties.

In Multi-Unit Housing Residences, smoking is prohibited:
  • NEW! In 100% of all dwelling units of multi-unit housing residences starting July 1, 2018 for new and renewing leases. All units, including owner-occupied, must be 100% smoke-free by July 1, 2019.
  • In common indoor and outdoor areas of multi-unit housing residences of 2 or more unit; and
  • On all balconies, patios, decks and carports for existing and new multi-unit housing.
  • All areas within 20 feet of doors, windows, air ducts and ventilation systems of multi-unit housing residences, except while walking from one destination to another.

Landlord Responsibilities:
  • NEW! Every lease and other rental agreement for the occupancy of a dwelling unit in a multi-unit residence that is entered into, renewed, or continued month-to-month must include that smoking is prohibited in all dwelling units starting July 1, 2018. *
  • NEW! Existing leases that specifically allow smoking must contain a clause stating that smoking is prohibited in all dwelling units when the lease is renewed or no later than July 1, 2019, whichever is earliest. *
  • Disclose the policy for handling smoking complaints in effect at the multi-unit housing residence, and provide a copy of that policy to each tenant along with every new lease or rental agreement for the occupancy of a unit in a multi-unit housing residence.
  • Post "No smoking" signs with letters of not less than one inch in height, or the international "No Smoking" symbol (consisting of a burning cigarette in a red circle with a red bar across it). The sign must be visibly posted in every building or other place where smoking is prohibited by law;
  • Not allow ashtrays or other receptacles for disposing of smoking material where smoking is prohibited; and
  • Not knowingly allow smoking in smoking prohibited areas.

Landlords may designate a common outdoor area of a multi-unit housing residence as a smoking area. For details contact Tobacco Prevention Project at tobaccopreventionproject@cchealth.org

*The California Apartment Association's form 34.0 may be used.

Smoking is also prohibited:
  • In any indoor workplace or indoor area open to the public, including tobacco shops, owner or volunteer operated businesses and hotel lobbies.

Smoking is permitted:
  • In any location within the county unless otherwise prohibited by local, state or federal law; and
  • In up to 20 percent of guests room in any hotel, unless the hotel has designated the entire hotel smoke-free.

Compliance for Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Law

Action required by June 30, 2019 

Owners, Operators, and or Managers are required by law to comply with the provisions listed below and to contact Contra Costa County staff to confirm that they are compliant.

Complete the required information via this link: tinyurl.com/CountySmokefreeMUH

In every building or other place where smoking is prohibited by law, the owner, operator or manager must:

  • Post "No smoking" signs with letters of not less than one inch in height, or the use of the international "No Smoking" symbol (consisting of a burning cigarette in a red circle with a red bar across it), must be visibly posted in every building or other place where smoking is regulated by the owner, operator, manager.
  • Not allow ashtrays or other receptacles for disposing of smoking material where smoking is prohibited.
  • Not knowingly allow smoking in smoking prohibited areas. The owner, operator or manager must request that the person stop smoking and if the person fails to stop, ask them to leave the premises.

Smoke-Free Signage

Posting smoke-free signs is required by the law

Sign Printing Tip: For indoor use, you can print this sign on card stock then laminate it or frame it. For outdoor use, ask a professional printer to download and print on weather resistant aluminum.

NEW* Smoke-free signs available for download!


Research shows that 80% of all smokers would like to quit and that smoke-free public places provide a more supportive environment. Information about cessation programs (to quit smoking) are available by calling the California Smoker's Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS or visit www.californiasmokershelpline.org

Below are links to Contra Costa County Secondhand Smoke Protection Ordinance Signs for business owners, landlords and the general public to download:

  1. "No smoking" sign (11" X 8.5")
  2. "No smoking" sign (7" X 5")
  3. "No fumar" sign (11" X 8.5")
  4. "No smoking within 20 feet" sign (11" X 8.5")
  5. "No smoking within 20 feet" sign (5" X 7")
  6. "No Smoking within 20 feet" - Spanish sign (11" X 8.5")
  7. "No Smoking within 20 feet" - Spanish sign (5" X 7")
  8. "No Smoking" sign (expanded language) (11" X 8.5")
  9. "No smoking" sign (expanded language) (7" X 5")