CITY HALL — With just two weeks before the latest smoking ban is set to go into effect, city officials have launched a Web site aimed at educating residents about the new law.
The information about the smoking ban on common areas of all multi-unit residences is available via www.smconsumer.org where residents can read frequently asked questions about the law and landlords can download sample notices to post in their buildings.
The ban, which applies to condominiums and apartments, goes into effect on Feb. 26.
The City Council adopted the ordinance last month to address concerns of the dangers related to second-hand smoke. Residents in multi-unit buildings have long complained about the impacts of living near smokers, some even claiming they have developed respiratory illnesses as a result.
The law applies to everything from walkways to swimming pool areas to shared patios to parking lots.
Landlords are required under the law to give notice to all tenants and post signs in common areas.
An earlier version of the ordinance sparked concerns among many rent control advocates that landlords could use the law to evict offending tenants. The adopted version addresses the issue by stating that landlords cannot use the ordinance to terminate tenancy and clarifying that smoking in common areas is not considered a violation of law under a lease.
The ordinance also establishes a method through which residents could challenge a neighbor who smokes in a common area, allowing them to seek damages of $100 in Small Claims Court. The penalty goes up to $200 and $500 for the second and third offenses in the same year. The provision has led to concerns that it would set up court battles between neighbors.
The ban is just the latest in a series of anti-smoking laws that the council has enacted over the past several years, including prohibiting the activity on the beach and many outdoor areas.