Starting Saturday, Mountain View will begin enforcing a sweeping prohibition on smoking that affects all residents in apartments, condos and townhomes. The law marks the city's first major legislative crackdown on smoking in nearly a decade.
The ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, prohibits smoking in multi-unit residences including inside units, on balconies and in common areas. The law is written broadly enough to cover a majority of Mountain View's housing, but stops short of including duplexes and single-family homes.
The ordinance bans the smoking of cigarettes, but also prohibits the use of cannabis, cigars, pipes, vaping devices and any electronic cigarettes.
The Mountain View City Council passed the law in May this year, citing the importance of public health and a need to crack down on secondhand smoke. City officials cite a 2014 report by the U.S. Surgeon General that secondhand smoke causes the "premature" death of 41,000 people each year, and say the ban on smoking in multifamily housing is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the health hazard.
The 6-1 decision, with councilwoman Pat Showalter opposed, appears to have the support of the community as well. A citywide survey in the lead-up to the vote found that 75% of respondents supported the ban while 21% opposed it. Where the ordinance parts ways with public opinion is in the prohibition of marijuana use, which only 48% of the respondents supported. There is no exemption for medical marijuana.
When the law goes into effect this week, landlords will be required to have "No Smoking" signs posted outside, and can choose to create a designated smoking area. Smoking will only be allowed in unenclosed areas at least 25 feet away from homes, common areas and places where children congregate, such as playgrounds and swimming pools. Leases also must be updated to reflect the new rules.
Tenants who fail to comply with the smoking prohibition will face fines, administrative action and potentially eviction.
Enforcement will largely be complaint-driven. Violations can be reported to the Mountain View Fire Department's Environmental Protection Division, which can be contacted at 650-903-6378 or [email protected] Complaints can also be sent to the city's AskMV portal.
In 2019, Santa Clara County released a report that showed Mountain View had some of the most lax smoking regulations in the region, falling well short of tobacco and other smoking restrictions implemented in Palo Alto, Los Gatos and Saratoga. The last time the city had passed substantive restrictions on smoking was in 2012, when the city adopted a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas and entryways. It also required a 25-foot buffer from workplaces, restaurants and public buildings where smoking was already prohibited.
Unlike other cities, Mountain View has not clamped down on the sale of tobacco products near schools and in pharmacies, and does not restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The full text of the ordinance can be found online.