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Smoke-free Multi-Family Housing

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City Smoking Ban effective January 1, 2019 for Existing Buildings



In November 2017, the City Council passed an ordinance to ban smoking of all kinds in multi-family housing units as a result of community concerns and the hazards of secondhand smoke.

The Surgeon General has concluded that eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure and that separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot completely prevent secondhand smoke exposure. Several studies have confirmed that smoke free multi-unit housing policies are the most effective method to fully reduce secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing.

This new law will affect all multi-family buildings with two or more attached units including duplexes, apartment buildings, condominium complexes, senior and assisted living facilities, and long-term health care facilities. The City regulations are already in effect for newly built dwellings (as of January 1, 2018) and will
extend to existing buildings effective January 1, 2019. 

Most multi-family building owners have already banned smoking within their buildings. According to the California Apartment Association, approximately 80% of their members already prohibit smoking within their housing units. 

The City recommends that landlords update leases as soon as possible to reflect the ordinance. Within the new law, smoke is defined as tobacco smoke, electronic smoking device vapors, cannabis smoke, smoke released by vaporization of any illegal drugs and other less common smoke definitions.


En noviembre de 2017, el Concejo Municipal aprobó una ordenanza para prohibir fumar de todo tipo en viviendas multifamiliares como resultado de las preocupaciones de la comunidad y los peligros del humo de segunda mano.

El Cirujano General ha llegado a la conclusión de que eliminar el hábito de fumar en espacios interiores es la única forma de proteger completamente a los no fumadores de la exposición al humo de segunda mano y que separar a los fumadores de los no fumadores, limpiar el aire y ventilar los edificios no puede evitar por completo la exposición al humo de segunda mano. Varios estudios han confirmado que las políticas de vivienda de unidades múltiples libres de humo son el método más efectivo para reducir completamente la exposición al humo de segunda mano en viviendas de unidades múltiples.

Esta nueva ley afectará a todos los edificios multifamiliares con dos o más unidades adjuntas, que incluyen dúplex, edificios de apartamentos, complejos de condominios, instalaciones de vivienda para ancianos y asistidos e instalaciones de atención médica a largo plazo. Las regulaciones de la Ciudad ya están vigentes para las viviendas de nueva construcción (a partir del 1 de enero de 2018) y se extenderán a los edificios existentes a partir del 1 de enero de 2019.

La mayoría de los propietarios de edificios multifamiliares ya han prohibido fumar dentro de sus edificios. Según la Asociación de Apartamentos de California, aproximadamente el 80% de sus miembros ya prohíben fumar dentro de sus unidades de vivienda.

La Ciudad recomienda que los propietarios actualicen los contratos de arrendamiento lo antes posible para reflejar la ordenanza. Dentro de la nueva ley, el humo se define como humo de tabaco, vapores de dispositivos electrónicos para fumar, humo de cannabis, humo liberado por vaporización de cualquier droga ilegal y otras definiciones de humo menos comunes. 

Smoking Ban Highlights

  • The ordinance applies to all multi-family residences with two or more units.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all units, including indoor and outdoor areas. (see ordinance for more details)
  • Smoking is allowed in limited, designated areas as outlined in Section 15.33 (C) of the ordinance.
  • Smoking, vaping or otherwise igniting tobacco, cannabis and/or illegal drugs are all banned.
  • January 1, 2018 was the effective date of the smoking ban for new buildings.
  • January 1, 2019 will be the effective date of the smoking ban for existing multi-family buildings.
  • Landlords are required to post notice of the City's smoking ban so that tenants are aware of these new regulations.
  • Each violation of the smoking ban ordinance can lead to a fine of $250-$1,000.
  • Intimidating, harassing, or otherwise retaliating against anyone who seeks compliance with this ordinance, or intentionally or recklessly exposing another person to smoke in response to that person’s effort to comply constitutes a misdemeanor. 

Report a Violation

To report a violation, contact the Code Enforcement Division at or call (650) 780-7577.

Violations can also be reported through myRWC, online or via the phone app. myRWC is a free and easy to use app that provides users access to a set of City services 24/7. Learn more about and download the myRWC app here.


Helpful Resources and Documents

Frequently Asked Questions  (En Español)

Staff Report


Required Notice For Landlords to Print and Post for Tenants  (En Español)

Tobacco Prevention and Educational Programs

San Mateo County Tobacco Prevention Programs and Education Coalition