California Town Considering Total Outdoor Smoking Ban — Even on Private Property


It’s already against the law for smokers to light up near businesses, parks and playgrounds in California, but one town is now considering a total outdoor smoking ban — even on private property — all at one family’s request.

City officials in Rocklin, Calif. are weighing the Baker family’s complaint about smoke drifting into their home from their neighbors’ backyards, the Placer Herald reported.

“We’re just saying, ‘please don’t poison us,’” James Baker told the newspaper in the Sacramento-area city. “Can you smoke inside your home? The reason they don’t want to do that is because they don’t want their family breathing it in. But it’s okay for your neighbor?”

Kelly Baker said her two sons, ages 11 and 16, both have asthma and that after 10 years of breathing in their neighbors’ secondhand smoke, the kids have become sicker.

“Kids like to play in the backyard,” she said. “It’s scary when you can’t breathe.”

She told the Herald the smoke from her neighbors’ porch cigarette breaks seeps in everywhere in her house, including the bathroom and laundry room.

“I’ll stand by my pantry and smell smoke,” she said. “Even during the winter with every window shut and every door shut (the smoke) comes in. It comes in through the vents, I think.”

Before going to the city council, James Baker said he tried to negotiate with his neighbors first to cut back their exposure. Some agreed to try, but at least one neighbor wasn’t as receptive.

“The first move is to have a peaceful resolution. When that is not going the way you want it to, it’s time to reach out to your government,” he said.

According to the Herald, Baker is asking the city to consider a nuisance ordinance similar to one in place in the nearby city of Dublin, Calif., charging violators with a misdemeanor and requiring them to pay a $250 fine and a perform a year of community service.

City resident and smoker Ryan Malonson told Sacramento CBS affiliate KOVR-TV he disagrees with what Baker is trying to do.

“As a smoker, I think that smokers should be considerate,” Malonson told KOVR. “But on your own property, that’s unacceptable…It’s not going to pass.”

Rocklin City Manager Rick Horst told the newspaper he’s looking into the possibility, though the issue is not entirely straightforward.

“How do you regulate and enforce smoking on private property that may drift with the wind into a neighbor’s yard?” Horst said.

But council member Diana Ruslin said such an ordinance is not out of the question.

“I understand his concern. When it’s your family, they are the most important thing — as they should be,” she said. “When someone comes to council, it does not fall on deaf ears.”