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First, the harmful effects of secondhand smoke are severe and widespread. Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 41,000 heart disease-related and lung cancer deaths each year. Furthermore, the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and the California Air Resources Board has classified secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the only way to fully protect nonsmokers is to eliminate smoking in all homes, worksites, and public places. However, 29% of Santa Clara County residents report smelling tobacco smoke drifting into their home from nearby apartments or from the outside.
Second, multiple county surveys show an increased demand for smoke-free housing in Santa Clara County. 96% of Santa Clara County apartment residents believe that smokers should not be allowed to smoke wherever they want and 84% said they would support a no smoking policy at their multi-unit housing complex. Several jurisdictions within Santa Clara County have already adopted smoke-free policies for multi-unit housing and most other jurisdictions prohibit smoking in entryways and service areas of nonresidential developments and at public events.
Multi-unit housing is any housing development with two or more units (e.g., duplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, condos, apartments, etc.).
This policy will apply to the smoking and vaping of all tobacco and cannabis-related products. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.
City staff will work with the County consultant to develop an implementation plan and informational materials to help residents and the owners/managers of multi-family properties understand and implement the new policy. Outreach materials will include new content on the City’s website, smoke-free signage, fact sheets, and a landlord toolkit designed to build support and increase public awareness of the new requirements.
In Santa Clara County, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and the unincorporated area require multi-unit housing to be smoke free. Refer to the Santa Clara County Jurisdictions Comparison Table (PDF) for a comparison of smoke-free policies across Santa Clara County jurisdictions. Additionally, the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County prohibits smoking at all of its properties. In San Mateo County, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Mateo, South San Francisco and the unincorporated area require multi-unit housing to be smoke free. Statewide, 63 local jurisdictions have adopted smoke free multi-unit housing laws that are considered “strong” by the American Lung Association. Most of these laws require 100% of new and existing housing units to be smoke free.
The focus of this effort is to reduce secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing and other public areas within Milpitas. However, as part of a separate effort, City staff from Planning and Recreation Services is developing a licensing program for tobacco retailers and conducting additional community outreach to educate youth, teens, and parents about the health hazards of smoking and vaping. Staff is also coordinating with the County consultant to develop regulations aimed at restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products to teens and discouraging the overall use of all tobacco products.