The City of Novato’s recently enacted anti-tobacco ordinance —which will go into effect in 2018, but is subject to reconsideration next week—would give landlords a tool with which to discriminate against renters. The measure discriminates against poor people, too.
The law bans smoking in apartments and condominiums, and also bans the use of electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Other communities have passed similar bans, but Novato’s ban goes much further. Use of any tobacco product—or even ownership of an ashtray—would be considered a material breach of a lease, thus giving landlords wide latitude to evict tenants.
The city exempts single-family homeowners from the law, which means the brunt of the measure will fall on less-affluent residents. It will also fall on those who attempt to quit their dangerous cigarette-smoking habit, given that the law treats less-dangerous vaping and smokeless tobacco products the same as cigarettes.
The law also encourages snitches, by making it illegal to abet or conceal a violation of the law. It encourages litigation, in that it gives absolutely anyone standing to sue and seek damages against those who vape in, say, an apartment’s common area.
This law is a godsend for landlords. They receive broad eviction authorities if they catch residents or even their guests with any type of tobacco product. It’s a creepy and discriminatory measure and its worst sections should be repealed.
- “anti-tobacco ordinance”: https://www.municode.com/library/ca/novato/ordinances/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=816957