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US city bans smoking in apartments – but not pot

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A sight soon to disappear in San Francisco ... unless that's wacky-baccy

Councillors in one of America’s largest cities have voted to ban smoking cigarettes and vapes in apartments – but not marijuana.

According to stories in the online versions of the  Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle , San Francisco will ban tobacco smoking inside apartments but will allow exemptions both for medically prescribed marijuana and for recreational pot smokers.

The move, intended to limit the effects of passive smoking on apartment residents, bumped up against state laws which mean that people who are legally allowed to smoke marijuana must do so in the privacy of their own homes.

Any such ban would have forced the city’s pot-smoking apartment dwellers to quit or break the law, whereas cigarette smokers and vapers would only need to step outside their apartment buildings to comply . 

Since cannabis provides the only relief for some from pain related to chronic illnesses, the compromise ordinance was agreed by the city’s Board of Supervisors by a vote of 10 to 1 with the marijuana exclusion agreed by 8 to 3.

The new regulations, which also excludes recreational pot smokers from prosecutuion, will still have to be ratified by the city council and mayor.

If it becomes law repeate offenders could face fines of up to US$1000 but they will not be subject to potential eviction.

One reason given for the new law is that apartments in the USA tend to have large numbers of low-income residents living in close proximity.  In fact, one of the American definitions of “apartment” is that it is rental accommodation.

Heavy smokers in an American low-rent apartment blocks can therefore force a lot of other residents to endure passive smoke.

However, it appears that the proposed regulation applies to “private homes in multi-unit dwellings” containing more than three homes.  So, for the purposes of this legislation, the definition of apartments is pretty close to ours here in Australia.

San Francisco is the 63rd city or county in California to ban smoking in apartments.  However it is the first major city to extend the ban to vaping or e-cigarettes.

A leading medical researcher and oncologist had written to the board to say that marijuana smoke had not, unlike tobacco,  been shown to cause cancer or heart or lung conditions, whether taken directly or as second-hand smoke.

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