Fresno City Council voted to ban smoking in collective housing on Thursday, citing the health risks posed by second-hand and third-hand smoke.

The proposal, sponsored by council members Nelson Esparza and Tyler Maxwell, would require housing complexes to ban smoking inside individual units and only allow it in designated smoking areas. The proposal includes electronic cigarettes, vape and hookah devices.

The proposal was presented on Thursday and passed by a 5-2 vote. Council members Garry Bredefeld and Mike Karbassi voted against. The point will come back at a later meeting for final ratification.

Speaking passionately on the issue, Maxwell said: “your rights end where mine begin”.

“Yes, you have the right to smoke, but you don’t have the right to affect other people who don’t want to inhale your second-hand and third-hand smoke,” he said.

Officials from the Fresno County Public Health Department submitted a letter in support of the order, noting that research shows that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Maxwell noted that Fresno also has high rates of asthma in children and adults and many days with bad air pollution, and second-hand and third-hand smoke exacerbates these health problems.

Board member Miguel Arias said when talking about the proposed policy to his daughter, who has severe asthma, she asked, “Why has it taken so long to consider such a sensible policy?”

Arias has said he wants the Fresno County Supervisory Board to resume the political debate as well.

“A healthier Fresno would mean we would be less vulnerable during a pandemic as we’ve seen over the past year and a half,” Arias said.

Councilor Esmeralda Soria congratulated the youth and the city’s youth commission for forming a coalition and proposing the ordinance.

“The science and the facts are there,” she said. “This is good policy and I am ready to support it.

While many health advocates and residents have spoken out in favor of the policy, some have said it does not go far enough. They asked the council to change the policy to include a ban on smoking on patios and balconies.

Jennifer Acidera of the California Health Collaborative said she lives in an apartment complex that already has a no-smoking policy for indoor units. Yet second-hand smoke from neighbors smoking on balconies and patios has drifted into her unit. This has become particularly problematic when ordering shelters in place in the event of a pandemic.

“It just added so much stress, especially having to think about how things were going to be because I had a baby on the way,” she said. “I understand that people have the right to choose whether or not to smoke, but I also have the right to live a smoke-free life, to protect myself, my baby and the rest of my family, and not be a prisoner of my own. own person. residence.”

Several board members said they had experienced something similar in their life situations.

Evictions, cannabis and water guns

Bredefeld opposed parts of the order, saying it would lead to unintended consequences, overburden landlords and discriminate against tenants. He also called for the proposal to include measures that would provide services to help people quit smoking.

“This is going to lead to people being kicked out if they don’t quit smoking,” he said.

Bredefeld also called his council colleagues hypocrites as they voted to allow cannabis sales in the city.

Karbassi wondered how realistic it would be to enforce the ordinance. To demonstrate his point, he held up a water pistol on the platform and suggested that it be fitted to law enforcement officers to extinguish cigarettes.

“It’s unloaded and I don’t have a CCW, but it’s a very interesting weapon. It has a lot of reach, ”said Karbassi. “So when we go to see somebody smoke in their own house, we can pull this out and put out that cigarette.”

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Brianna Calix covers Fresno Town Hall for The Bee, where she works to empower public servants and shine a light on issues that deeply affect the lives of residents. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister newspaper, the Merced Sun-Star, and received her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.

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