UNION CITY -- Smokers must refrain from lighting up at public events and in outdoor restaurant and bar spaces starting next month.

The new law, which also will beef up penalties for selling tobacco to minors and ultimately ban smoking in all apartments, takes effect Dec. 23. The City Council unanimously approved the anti-smoking ordinances last week.

The apartment ban, which will take effect in February 2012 to give landlords time to comply, will affect all rental dwellings of two or more units, including market-rate apartments, affordable apartments, senior facilities and duplexes on one lot. It does not apply to single-family homes, mobile home parks, condominiums with units owned individually, or duplexes on two lots.

The city earned a D grade in a January report by the American Lung Association, which ranked cities and counties based on three policy areas that the group considers most effective in combating the negative effects of tobacco at the local level.

Sixty-seven percent of jurisdictions statewide flunked.

Council members received an overview of the association's report in July and directed staff members to prepare changes to the law in those three areas -- smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products -- to raise the city's grade to an A.

The new ordinances also will:

  • Maintain the restriction on indoor common areas of multiunit housing.


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  • Require apartment landlords to disclose to potential tenants information about the smoking restrictions at the property.

  • Declare secondhand smoke exposure a nuisance.

  • Prohibit smoking in recreation areas such as parks and trails, and unenclosed areas primarily used by children or for physical activity.

  • Maintain the existing restriction on smoking in entryways and service areas.

  • Prohibit sampling of tobacco products.

  • Establish a local retail tobacco license, to be renewed annually, that could be revoked for selling to minors. The penalties would begin with a warning for the first offense in a five-year period. For a second violation, the business's license would be revoked for 60 days; a third offense, one year; and a fourth violation, five years.

  • Maintain the requirement for a conditional-use permit to establish a retail tobacco store.

    Contact Rob Dennis at 510-353-7010.