The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to reject a proposed ban on vaping in private rental accommodation following concerns it could be harmful to long-term renters.
Board President Norman Yee’s proposal to prohibit vaping in the multi-unit complexes received overwhelming support last week. But during it’s second vote, the motion to table the ordinance passed with a 6-to-5 vote.
Dean Preston – previously the only board member against the legislation – stressed that the vape ban could have a major impact on long-standing renters. Preston highlighted the $1,000 fine and increased potential for tenant harassment as points of concern.
The ban is intended to combat second-hand smoke in multi-unit apartment buildings. However, advocates for tobacco harm reduction continue to speak out against it.
David Sweanor, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said:
“This is distressingly illiberal, particularly for a city that has been known for taking relatively enlightened approaches to public health issues.
“This is a place that has worked to make viable low risk, non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes illegal, and is now looking to punish people for engaging in the behaviour such policies force upon them.”
Preston now has the majority support of the board, with Supervisor Aaron Peskin citing the ‘moving’ testimonies of constituents as an influence on his switch.
Peskin said: “I really am fearful that the unintended impacts could cause more harm to long term tenants in my district and other districts.
“I do want to address the harm of secondhand smoke in multi-unit residential buildings, but I think there are better ways.”
In a recent statement following the second vote, Yee expressed disappointment with the board’s decision. If the vape ban had passed, San Francisco would have become the largest US city to implement a multi-unit vaping ban.
Yee said: “Today’s vote failed to prioritize the health of our most vulnerable community members.
“It is completely backwards that we would defend the rights of people to smoke in their own homes over the rights of others.”
While pleased that the Board of Supervisors chose to halt the vape ban, Professor of community health sciences at Boaton University Dr. Michael Siegel expressed his suspicion of the board’s motivations, saying:
“They apparently changed their decision because they were concerned about complaints from constituents.
“If this were really as an important health issue as they argue, then failing to take action just because a few long-term tenants object would not be a valid justification.”
Seigel previously theorised that the board’s motives to vote against the vape ban are political, rather than in the name of public health.