LAFAYETTE -- Smokers will have fewer places to light up in Lafayette if city leaders adopt new regulations banning smoking in apartments and other locations -- including throughout downtown.

Council members asked city staff this week to draft an update to Lafayette's smoking ordinance to prohibit the activity in outdoor dining areas, at public events and in multifamily housing common areas, including balconies, carports and exteriors.

Under existing guidelines modeled after the California Labor Code, smoking is not allowed inside enclosed public spaces and places of employment in Lafayette. It's also banned in downtown businesses and on city-owned property.

It is, however, allowed in private residences, some hotel rooms, tobacco stores and other locations, according to city data.

According to the proposed changes, smoking would be banned inside all new multifamily units built after a yet-to-be-determined date. It would also be disallowed outside of residences within 20 feet of doors, windows and vents.

But at least one official wants clarification of how such rules could conflict with prescription medical marijuana users.

"If we don't want them smoking outside, where do we want them smoking?" asked councilwoman Traci Reilly.


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Should Lafayette adopt the new guidelines, it would join other Bay Area cities taking a hard line against secondhand smoke. Smoking on sidewalks is banned in cities including Alameda, San Rafael and Concord, which also bans smoking downtown. It is also prohibited in multifamily building "common areas" in Martinez, San Ramon and Pinole, and within new and existing units in San Rafael, Richmond and Alameda. The city of Walnut Creek is also working to revise its smoking ordinance.

Changes are also afoot at the state level. A bill that would ban smoking in new and existing multifamily dwelling units and other areas is currently being reconsidered after being rejected in April by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.

Lafayette has been eyeing modifications to its ordinance after hearing last year from a resident concerned about smoking in apartment complexes.

At a meeting Monday, another resident warned about the effects of secondhand smoke in multifamily housing, saying she believes her sister developed lung cancer -- and later died -- after years of breathing in smoke while living in apartments.

"By making an apartment complex completely smoke-free, you help people to quit, which saves lives," said Margot Connolly, a legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network. "There's quite a bit of evidence that it's very destructive to nonsmokers within a complex to have people smoking in their apartments or anywhere in that area."

Before going forward with all the proposed restrictions suggested by city staff, officials agreed to get more information about the downtown bans after hearing concerns from council members Reilly and Mark Mitchell.

"It would effectively ban smokers from coming to Lafayette," Mitchell said. "That sounds like a restrictive position. I'm a little up in the air on that."

Once the council receives the feedback, staff will write an updated ordinance, and the council will vote whether to adopt it.