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Some Apartments May Be Out of Bounds for Smokers

November 20, 2003|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

Lighting up a cigarette in your own home could become illegal in Los Angeles if you move into a new apartment built with city money.

A City Council committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a proposal that at least half of all multifamily housing units built with money from the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund be "smoke free."

The city attorney's office must now draft an ordinance for the full council to consider.

Health advocates crowded into City Hall to support the plan, which was proposed by council President Alex Padilla. No one spoke against it.

Henrilee Long, who lives in a skid row housing project, said he is plagued by secondhand smoke. "They smoke in the elevators," he said. "It is very difficult for me to breathe. I would appreciate it if you would help with this."

Officials said the proposal could affect more than 1,000 apartment units each year.

Existing apartment complexes would probably not be affected and officials stressed that the proposed law would not be intended to punish smokers.

Apartments where smoking is allowed would still be built, they said. The law would simply give nonsmokers the option of living in a smoke-free area.

L.A. has been a pioneer in smoking bans and pushed some of the first laws that prohibited lighting up in restaurants, theaters and workplaces.

"We need to look no further than hotels and motels in the city of Los Angeles," Padilla said, to see that it is possible to create smoke-free environments in buildings with multiple family units.

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