Are Smoking Bans Legal in Apartments?

Homeowners associations and rental property owners are evaluating their policies surrounding secondhand smoke as laws and attitudes across the country evolve.  Condominiums, cooperatives and co-housing developments have approached this issue by changing their CC&Rs through a membership vote, but apartment owners have several other considerations.

People have become accustomed to signs that ban smoking at work and in other public buildings, but it gets dicier when landlords start to restrict smoking inside and outside residential buildings.  If current trends continue, however, they will be getting some assistance from their local municipalities.  City officials across the country are attempting to address threats to public health and smoking cigarettes is on the hit list.

Who smokes?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the most recent figures available show about 46 million adult Americans were smoking in 2008.  That is about one out of every five people, with gender divisions at 23.1% for the men and 18.3% for the women.

When broken down by race/ethnicity, the numbers were as follows:

Whites 22.0%
African Americans 21.3%
Hispanics 15.8%
American Indians/Alaska Natives 32.4%
Asian Americans 9.9%

Unfortunately, there were more cigarette smokers in the younger age groups with 23.7% of 25 to 44 years olds current smokers, compared with 9.3% of those aged 65 and older.  Still, with a super-majority of Americans not smoking, it should be no surprise that tolerance for the habit has waned.

Respecting our behind-closed-doors mentality, the sanctity of one’s home has been considered utterly sacrosanct whether rented or owned.  However, as sacred and inviolable as the concept may be in theory, landlords are getting pressure from their tenants, insurance carriers and city fathers to revamp or develop and disclose  a building’s smoking policies.

As there is no specifically outlined Constitutional right to smoke, it is not a fundamental freedom that is protected.  Many suits over the last several years attempted to overturn regulations that prohibited smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places without success.  Therefore, most legal experts agree that a private owner would not be prohibited from proclaiming his property a ‘smoke free’ zone. Always check with your local apartment association and city manager as a precaution as regulations in this area are in a state of flux and change.

Banning smoking in common areas or outside the complex is relatively simple, but carrying this forward to balconies, patios and individual units can be an extraordinarily delicate maneuver and certainly a challenge for any manager.

The California Apartment Association, however, is a very vocal supporter of non-smoking ordinances, particularly the first one that was passed by the city of Calabasas, California, in January of 2008.  The Calabasas ordinance bans all smoking within the city and has been held up as a model for other cities to adopt.  The ordinance will also require landlords to convert 80% of the city’s apartment units to smoke-free by 2012. Smoking anywhere in the city where a non-smoker could congregate is an automatic misdemeanor with a fine of $250.  As non-smokers are considered to ‘congregate’ everywhere, the ordinance defines this as including public sidewalks and apartment complexes.

Under Calabasas’ law landlords do not need to make allowances to accommodate smokers beyond designating a smoking-allowed outside area that meets certain conditions of size and distance from entrances, balconies and units.  However, the City manager may waive this area requirement in the event he or she deems space is unavailable or it is impractical to create.

Landlords are specifically allowed in the language of the Ordinance to decide to designate their units as  ‘100% smoke-free’ complexes.  To cover enforcement, the ordinance gives the landlord the right to sue tenants who smoke in prohibited areas, but it does not require him to do so.  It also gives other tenants the right to bring actions against the smokers, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the next few years.

However, no matter how much an owner would like to accelerate change, landlords generally may not take away an amenity that an existing tenant has previously enjoyed.  The majority of California cities with non-smoking ordinances specifically ‘grandfather’ existing tenants who smoke.  California cities with such an ordinance include Calabasas, Loma Linda, Temecula, Belmont, Novato, Dublin, Glendale, Santa Monica, Albany and Oakland.  Check these cities’ websites and they can probably direct you to the specific language. You may also want to direct your own city fathers to these sites if you don’t have an ordinance in your town.

There are many recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regard to smoking and indoor and outdoor environmental air quality. President Bill Clinton in 1997 got the ball rolling when he banned smoking in all executive branch government buildings.  In 1998 the U.S. Department of Transportation followed suit by banning smoking on all domestic commercial flights.  “Smoke free” environments often now include the complete grounds for commercial properties.

As of February 2010, twenty-five states had passed smoking bans for all public places – there are exemptions for tobacconists, cigar bars, casinos and/or private clubs – but Calabasas may still own the title as having the strictest smoking ban in the country if not the world.

Second hand smoke has been a verified health risk for decades, of course, but now third hand smoke has been defined as a threat to public health.  Tobacco toxins can persist in automobile interiors and inside buildings for months after smoking has ceased.  Smoking residues become embedded in furnishings and clothing and are re-distributed by HVAC systems from other units.  They can also seep in through a home’s natural ventilation system of doors and windows.

On the medical staff of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, pediatrician Dr. Jonathan Winickoff warns that babies and children are particularly vulnerable to third hand smoke.  A study he led on the affects of third hand smoke on children was published in the January 2009 issue of the magazine PEDIATRICS.   He states that as children are closer to the ground – crawling around on carpet and other smoke-absorbent flooring – they are being exposed to anything that may off-gas.

Of course, any non-smoking campaign is music to fire insurance underwriters and any fire department chief.  Science Daily reported in 2000 that:

“Based on a worldwide study of smoking-related fire and disaster data, UC Davis epidemiologists show smoking is a leading cause of fires and death from fires globally, resulting in an estimated cost of nearly $7 billion in the United States and $27.2 billion worldwide in 1998. The study is published in the August [2000] issue of Preventive Medicine. Smoking causes an estimated 30 percent of fire deaths in the United States and 10 percent of fire deaths worldwide.”

These incendiary devices – that cause so much misery in later life – also fall into the hands of children, a frightening thought without any additional elaboration.

One organization, Smoke Free Apartments (SFA), has suggested Gold, Silver and Bronze designations be awarded to any apartment building that meets specific criteria for smoking  limitations and bans.  They also recommend that if you want to test the water with your residents, consider taking a simple tenant survey.  SFA claims their surveys have documented that 80% of residents want to live in a smoke-free environment.  Your tenants might be similar.

There are other liability issues to consider with regard to secondhand smoke as well.  In January of 2006, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) identified tobacco smoke as a “Toxic Air Contaminant with no safe level of exposure… “, and further stated, “Secondhand smoke is now formally identified as an airborne toxic substance that causes and/or contributes to death or serious illness.”

Although most people now might consider landlords innocent of any wrongdoing when tenants create the second and third hand smoke?  Once the pendulum swings the other way, it can move pretty quickly.  If you are concerned about the health of your tenants, perhaps now is a good time to establish some smoke free policies.

On a positive note, advertising your vacancies indicating the units are ’smoke free’ seems to be a winning strategy and perceived by tenants as a very desirable amenity.  Many landlords are in the process of developing a smoking policy, as more municipalities are requiring the policy be disclosed as part of any lease agreement.

Oregon’s landlord disclosure law, which went into effect January 1, 2010, requires landlords to advise prospective tenants of smoking policies.  Landlords with a restricted smoking policy may fill their vacancies faster than those without one.  Surveys in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area consistently show 70% to 75% of the respondents state a preference for living in a smoke-free complex.

Although the health of occupants is always the primary concern for a landlord, reducing or eliminating smoking can also:

  • Reduce the cleaning requirements for blinds, drapes, rugs and walls
  • Maintain higher efficiency and require fewer repairs in HVAC systems
  • Lower expenses for painting, refurbishing and general maintenance
  • Improve grounds appearance (without cigarette butts)
  • Lower fire/theft insurance premiums


  1. Mark Walcoff
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    We all know that cigarette smoking is hazardous to those that smoke but I have never seen a real study regarding outdoor environmental tobacco smoke. I would also be curious how this same law could be used to ban barbeque grilling in public areas as parks or even apartments. It seems hypocritical to ban cigarette smoke when other smoke from accelerants for grills or even burning wood creates the same hazardous smoke.

  2. Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much Mark, for taking the time to comment. The California Air Resources Board is probably a really good resource for you on links to those studies or the EPA. Many municipalities also ban different types of grills as, believe it or not, they are a really big source of air pollution. China also has a huge ‘cloud’ of pollutants that travels across Asia and the world from so many of their population using open fires to cook. One issue with public parks, parklands, refuges, woods, etc., is that if you don’t provide a safe area for barbecuing ‘we’ public often get creative and don’t know how to put out a campfire when we leave. So many, many things to upgrade with regard to this subject. Again, thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  3. Rebeccar
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Third hand smoke scare challenged
    On February 8, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published a study by a research team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California describing the alleged risks of third-hand smoke. The researchers claim tobacco residue clinging to surfaces such as clothes and hair pose health risks for children.

    Two physicians contacted by The Heartland Institute and a policy analyst for the organization rejected the idea that third-hand smoke poses significant health risks. They can be quoted as follows or contacted directly for additional information.


    “There is no bench and lab, and no epidemiology proof-of-cause of cancer in side stream or exhaled smoke, and certainly no proof of cancer caused by residue of tobacco smoke on clothes, furniture, carpets, or furniture.

    “If the cause of cancer were understood, it might be possible for public health officials to make claims for this or that cause, but mostly public officials appeal to people’s anxieties and ignorance.

    “At this point, after expenditures of billions, we know that cancer is mostly increased by age; smoking cigarettes causes cancer; and there are a few–very few–chemicals and electromagnetic/radiation factors that can cause cancer.

    “No one, ever, has shown that tobacco smoke residue causes cancer. In fact no one has shown that side stream or exhaled tobacco smoke causes cancer. The issue for anti-tobacco crusaders is smell and preferences, and interfering with smokers, not some serious public health issue.”

    John Dale Dunn, M.D. J.D.
    Policy Advisor
    The Heartland Institute


    “There is such a phenomenon as third-hand smoke. There’s no evidence whatsoever that it’s hazardous to health, but as an aesthetic matter, it’s quite noticeable if you’re sitting next to someone on a bus who reeks so badly of smoke that you are nauseous. Still, being able to smell something doesn’t mean it will give you cancer or any other disease.

    “I can’t believe we’ve reached the phase in anti-smoking hysteria that we’re now worried about carcinogenic effects of third-hand smoke. When are we going to get to fourth-hand smoke?”

    Elizabeth Whelan, M.D.
    American Council on Science and Health


    “The claim of dangers from third-hand smoke reeks of the same pseudo-science nonsense that has caused our country to implement so many other unnecessary nanny-state regulations. While the Berkeley study might make for eye-popping news headlines, it lacks the scientific substance necessary to be taken seriously.

    “In the end, these claims of third-hand smoke dangers will be confirmed for what they really are–nonsense.”

    John Nothdurft
    The Heartland Institute
    Legislative Specialist

  4. Donna
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    MS Madrigil seems very apt with posting things that fall to her likeing. The problem is much has been proven as a hoax and deceit. One might want to ask her how many workers comp claims have been paid out due to second hand (oh lets not forget the new claim of 3rd hand smoke). The answer is NONE as there is no such damages from SHS. I could right a book but I’ll refer to one link of many showing the deceits behind the recently published 3rd hand smoke claims.

  5. Rebeccar
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    To Elizabeth Madrigal and Mark Walcoff. Are you two seriously ill? Ban barbeque grilling? Freaks.

  6. Donna
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    A corrected link, published by the Heartland Institute:

  7. Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Well your stats breakdown at the start makes one thing pretty clear:

    If you’re a landlord and you don’t want young folks with noisy brats and you hate Indians, here’s a nice “legal” way to discriminate against them!

    Now isn’t that just… convenient.

    Also, Elizabeth, you wrote, “if you don’t provide a safe area for barbecuing ‘we’ public often get creative and don’t know how to put out a campfire when we leave.” Odd, the same argument was made against smoking bans in bars when fire-safety devices (ashtrays) were removed and smokers began sneaking smokes in back rooms and bathrooms and such. There’s no count of course of how many fires have resulted from the smoking bans… after all, who would fund them? Big Tobacco knows that any study it funds would be treated as trash, and the Antismokers would obviously never fund any such study.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  8. Enlightened
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I came across this on the net that blows the whole thing out of the water, especially outside! There is a LOT more information on this site completely proving this is all rubbish!

    Quintessential argument against smoking bans

    If your local government is legislating secondhand smoke because they claim secondhand smoke is a WORKPLACE health hazard…….shouldn’t they consult with the authority on workplace health hazards? –OSHA

    And in fact air quality testing of secondhand smoke results compared to OSHA permissible exposure limits proves there is no health hazard. Results found SHS is 2.6 – 25,000 times SAFER than OSHA workplace regulations.

    More here:

    OSHA itself has stated regarding secondhand smoke:

    “Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.”

  9. Enlightened
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws in effect elevating smokers to a protected class.

    State Year Code
    California 2005 CA LABOR CODE § 96(k) & 98.6
    Colorado 1990 CO REV. STAT. ANN § 24-34-402.5
    Connecticut 2003 CT GEN. STAT. ANN. § 31-40s
    District of Columbia 1993 D.C. CODE ANN. § 7-1703.3
    Illinois 1987 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. 55/5
    Indiana 2006 IND. CODE §§ 22-5-4-1 et seq.
    Kentucky 1994 KY REV. STAT. ANN. § 344.040
    Louisiana 1991 LA REV. STAT. ANN. § 23:966
    Maine 1991 ME REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 26, § 597
    Minnesota 1992 MINN. STAT. § 181.938
    Mississippi 1994 MISS. CODE ANN. § 71-7-33
    Missouri 1992 MO. REV. STAT. § 290.145
    Montana 1993 MONT. CODE ANN. §§ 39-2-313 & 39-2-314
    Nevada 1991 NEV. REV. STAT. § 613.333
    New Hampshire 1991 N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 275:37-a
    New Jersey 1991 N.J. STAT. ANN. §§ 34:6B-1 et seq.
    New Mexico 1991 N.M. STAT. ANN. §§ 50-11-1 et seq.
    New York 1992 N.Y. [LABOR] LAW § 201-d
    North Carolina 1991 N.C. GEN. STAT. § 95-28.2
    North Dakota 1993 N.D. CENT. CODE §§ 14-02.4-01 et seq.
    Oklahoma 1991 OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 40, § 500
    Oregon 1989 OR. REV. STAT. §§ 659A.315 & 659A.885
    Rhode Island 2005 R.I. GEN. LAWS § 23-20.10-14
    South Carolina 1991 S.C. CODE ANN. § 41-1-85
    South Dakota 1991 S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 60-4-11
    Tennessee 1990 TENN. CODE ANN. § 50-1-304
    Virginia 1989 VA. CODE ANN. § 2.2-2902
    West Virginia 1992 W. VA. CODE § 21-3-19
    Wisconsin 1991 WIS. STAT. §§ 111.31 et seq.
    Wyoming 1992 WYO. STAT. ANN. §§ 27-9-101 et seq.

  10. Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    I was surprised to see so many comments this morning, but obviously this hits a nerve. First I’ll thank you all for your interest in the subject and for taking the time to offer links, opinions and other data. As an ex-smoker who joyfully smoked for a few months as a teen and then spent the next 15 years trying to quit, I fully appreciate the addictive nature of nicotine and how enjoyable smoking can be for some of us. On the other hand, my aunt died of lung cancer at 58 and her husband smoked like a chimney, as they used to say. Third hand smoke? I thought a Harvard pediatrician was a pretty good source. I personally think we underestimate all the toxins we expose our children to via permanent markers, flea killers (on our pets), insect sprays for our houseplants, cleaning products, etc. I had never heard of third hand smoke before researching for this article, so I thought it was an interesting addition.

  11. Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment, Donna, and the link. I don’t smoke myself anymore, but I have several friends and relatives who do. Obviously I care about them, but I consider their personal behavior none of my business – just as I don’t try to regulate people who race cars and bungie jump. I wrote this article because, candidly, I was surprised about the new bans and the claim of ‘third hand smoke’ myself. Many trends originate in California, and this one is already spreading.

  12. Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Rebaccar, there are lots of reasons to ban some types of barbecues, but barbecues that use natural gas or propane burn cleaner. Of course, there are the issues of using a fossil fuel, which must be extracted, etc., but hey, I love my steak big and medium rare!

  13. Enlightened
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    The latest research into passive smoking. It has
    been discovered that mechanism that triggers lung cancer in non-smokers is quite different to that in smokers.
    Therefore, breathing in other peoples smoke will not ever give you lung cancer. “INTERPRETATION: Lung cancer in never-smokers should probably be
    regarded as a different disease-entity than smoking-induced lung cancer.
    This could impact prognosis as well as treatment.”

  14. Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Michael, I thought about whether to include stats on who smokes, but having Mik’maq ancestry myself, I thought it was important information. Obviously the Native American community needs to address this for general tribal health. Quitting smoking was the most difficult thing I ever did and one I consider a personal triumph. In other words, I know how difficult it is for anyone. By providing the stats, though, I wanted to show that smokers were from all groups.

    By the way, racist and bigoted landlords will find ways to practice their hateful behavior without my help or yours. Turn them in when you can. Here’s a link from November 2009 showing Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers owner, will pay $2.725 million to settle a lawsuit claiming he discriminated against African Americans, Hispanics and families with children in apartments he owned across Los Angeles. Even for small infractions there are enormously big fines after the first citation.

    Keep in mind, Michael, that I didn’t write these laws. I am simply the messenger, although if 70 to 80% of the population doesn’t do something and you want full occupancy in your apartments, I presented this as a business message.

  15. Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I am sure for most people, second hand smoke is not a big deal, but there are exceptions. Back in the day when I sang in lounges and clubs which allowed smoking, I could count on at least a day of a sore throat after any performance. In a (smokeless) studio I didn’t have a problem ever. It turns out I am asthmatic and allergic, which is probably a good 10% to 15% of the population between the two. As a minority here, I never expected to see smoking banned but since then I can go to jazz clubs in my area and maybe even the occasional karaoke bar.

    As I am also chemically sensitive, I have to watch what cleaning products I use too. I have come to envision myself as the canary miners used to put down in the mine. When the canary died, they got out of there as fast as they could. So, yes, compared to the chemicals, radiation and materials American workers are exposed to? Secondhand smoke is a pretty wimpy airborn contaminant. That doesn’t make it safe for some of us, however.

  16. Posted February 13, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    MMM, thanks for the codes, which obviously took a lot of time to outline. The protections in Oregon – here’s the 2007 update on their regulation, – prohibit an employer from requiring an employee in non-working hours not to smoke. Obviously, many companies have tried to control their employees personal lives which is, of course, absurd.

    From a business perspective, however, employees who do smoke raise the health insurance premiums for the class, so it would be to the financial advantage of employers to hire non-smoking employees. This, incidentally, is also one of the reasons why people 45 and older are having a much harder time getting jobs during our recession than younger people are.

  17. Posted February 13, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Yes, there have always been a small number of people who develop lung cancer without ever smoking. That does not mean that secondhand smoke is not a carcinogen for them or other people. Cancer is also about 100 different diseases, although we like to lump it into one category. Also, developing cancer requires at least one cell mutation and in some cancers 5 or 6. If a person has 4, and then they smoke, that may be enough to trigger a cancer. One of my doctors told me that smoking predisposes people to all kinds of cancers, not just mouth, lips, tongue, lungs, etc.

  18. virgilk
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    There is nothing in Tobacco smoke that cause an asthma attack. Tobacco smokehas no antagens to cause an attack.
    Among the factors that commonly trigger asthmatic attacks are pollen, mold spores, house dust, animal hair and skin, feathers, insects (including cockroaches), household and industrial chemicals, metallic dust, flour, drugs (like aspirin), infections of the nose, throat and sinuses, certain foods, exercise, exposure to cold air, and emotional distress.
    In infants, food allergy can precipitate asthma, and many specialists urge that children born into allergic families should not be fed anything but breast milk (or soy milk formula) for their first six months of life. Early feeding of solid foods can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible infants.

    Fewer people smoke now than ever before, and smoking restrictions and bans have resulted in even less exposure to secondhand smoke. Yet, adult and childhood asthma cases have increased from approximately 6.7 million in 1980 to 17.3 million in 1998, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [1]

    The dramatic increase in asthma clearly flies in the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stated claim in 1994 that restricting exposure to secondhand smoke would result in the reduction of thousands of new cases of childhood asthma annually and save billions of dollars a year. [2]

    Contrary to what the EPA would have us believe, medical researchers are increasingly putting the blame for asthma on our modern day obsession with cleanliness, not on tobacco smoke. For further discussion on this, see “Smoke and the Asthma Epidemic: A Reality Check,” by Wanda Hamilton.

  19. Posted February 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know enough about smoke causing asthma to have an opinion, and as I am multiply-blessed with allergic problems and chemical sensitivities, I only know smoke bothers me. Wood burning in fireplaces, candles that emit gases like butane, and even smoking oil if I am cooking can give me a problem.

    This is not a new issue for humans, as you know. For example, John McLoughlin, the “Father of Oregon,” was in charge at the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver (Washington state) site and was said to be a very tall man, well over six foot. When the tour guides in the historical buildings show you his bedroom furniture, it looks like a child’s length bed. My query as to why such a tall man would sleep in such a short bed, ellicited this response from the guide. First amused laughter and then, “Oh, so many people in those days had lung problems, they mostly slept sitting up.”

    Anyone who has had bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma or a COPD condition understands that only too well.

  20. Posted February 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth, thank you for being willing to share your blog with those who disagree with. Few blog owners are willing to stand behind their beliefs in that way and defend their positions.

    Several more points, though I’ll try to make them brief:

    1) While I’ve never found a study on it (which says something in and of itself!) I believe that smoking may protect against MCS or chemical sensitivity to some extent while quitting smoking seems to be a high risk factor for developing it.

    2)Even clean burning BBQs produce massive amounts of things like the nitrosomines they’re currently screaming about regarding “Third Hand Smoke.” While I’d have to do a lot of researching and estimating and juggling to come up with any sort of semi-solid figure, I would expect that taking your toddler to a backyard BBQ might very wello expose them to a million times the dose of Nitrosomines that they’d get in their entire lifetime from “Third Hand Smoke.”

    Elizabeth, to see why I and some others here are so sceptical about the studies you see in the headlines, take a few minutes to check out two links:

    A) Last year’s third hand smoke nonsense: Kabat’s article AND my AfterComments at:

    and B) How and WHY they juggle figures on ban effects. I have several comments in sequence as I uncovered things. See:

    Elizabeth, quite uniformly, in almost every “secondhand smoke” study Ive examined where the base data and methodologies were available for examination there have been significant, and often extreme, twistings and lies. See my “New Stiletto” at: for a one-sided, but honest and accurate analysis of about a half dozen of them. If you have ANY specific substantive criticisms or questions, please share them here.

    In closing, I’d like to once again appreciate your openness to discussion on your blog.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  21. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I am a musician and have been for close to 30 thirty years in several genres from classical and church music to jazz/blues/rock/country.
    In other words, a successful steadily working freelancer ….until the smoking bans went in.

    I don’t mind the smoke in the places as much as I mind them closing down or just cutting their entertainment budgets back to the quick to survive when forced to implement governmental smoking bans.

    Some places are smokefree by choice and successful only after weighing whether it would be a good business choice for them.

    These are in states that still allow choice. I have even been in high dollar supper clubs outside of my state and I have seen that many of these places allow smoking and seem to do very well. Smoking is not limited to “dive bars” as many of the antismoking organizations want people to believe in canned soundbites or by insults in internet forums.

    As I and other musicians who were used to working on a regular basis for years before the bans, now it is “Nice Work if You Can Get”.

    Regular work is scanty to nonexistent. Our bands are cut down to duos or singles in many places because of the impact of the smoking ban economics. Door gigs are taking the place of guarantees we have had in many places for years. Private corporate work is scanty also after the bans. I figured this kind of work would be immune, but it wasn’t either.

    Church and classical music seems to be immune from the economic damage of smoking bans, but the other genres have been hurt badly.

    Those are just the facts.

  22. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I saw that you mentioned karaoke bars.
    We as musicians as losing work to these places also.

  23. Posted February 13, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Michael, your viewpoint and links are interesting and I am sure our readers will appreciate your viewpoint and your sources. I promise to spend some time reading them myself. I have several friends who are also firemen, so I know that when extreme smoke exposure occurs – even if it is not every day – like the barbecue syndrome, you are absolutely right. It is believed that firemen tend to have a significantly shorter lifespan because of this. You mentioned smoking protecting from chemical sensitivity, and when I smoked, I seemed fine. Of course, I was decades younger which might have had some affect.

    On my willingness to post comments? I have been writing long enough to know that there are many points of view that all be true. We can all learn from each other when we are respectful, plus there is always hope we will find common ground. And then there’s the other part. The older I get, the less I seem to know. I’ll spend some time viewing your other links. Thanks again, for your comments.

  24. Posted February 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I hear you here. Half my family are professional musicians and getting live work is very tough. I also taught music for three years and feel terribly sad that so many parents will buy a kid an iPod, but they don’t want to rent a piano/flute/etc. and pay for lessons for a year. My personal opinion is that it starts with education. The first cuts are always to music and art and the last cut is for the football program. With very little (financial) appreciation for most of the arts in our current society it is amazing any professionals survive at all. We need to refocus society so that we are not so obsessed with material goods as we neglect that ’soul food’ known as music, art and performance. My kids were never bored (or any trouble other than the usual teenage thing) because they always had artistic and creatives hobbies and activities.
    Personally, my favorite childhood memories (and that of all my siblings) is when our musician family got together and played, sang and danced all night.

  25. Posted February 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I hope you’re not really competing against the karaoke bars as from my own experience, they are more like comedy shows. Seriously, though, karaoke singing is very serious in some countries. I recently read in the New York Times that singing, “I did it my way”, that old Sinatra tune, can actually get people killed in the Philippines.

  26. Rebeccar
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth Madrigal, I like you! Although I disagree with you in many respects, I certainly appreciate your willingness for dialog. It is very rare that an author responds to every comment. This is the way it should be. Thank you for your sensibility even if we can’t change your mind.

  27. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    I am glad you are openminded and can see and relate to different viewpoints.

    Right now it is very difficult for those who are professional musicians who work in music as a vocation in places with smoking bans. I am thankful that I kept my “day gig” considering the current climate of less available work due to the smoking bans.

    If the Blue Note in NYC is doing well when a national artist breezes through for a one niter, there is the other story of the jobbers in the city that is never heard.

    I personally know of two musicians in my circle who toughed it out in NYC and returned to my town as NYC is not all that it is cracked up to be. We are not talking wannabes or anything of the that kind. Seriously talented people is what I am talking about with good business heads to deal with the music business.

    I could do the NYC thing and have a PO box out of the place which is about as close as I care to be to it at this particular time. Frankly until Bloomberg is gone, I don’t care to even set foot in the place.

    I am just mentioning NYC as many staunch antismokers will point to the “success” of the smoking ban in NYC from their biased slanted viewpoint. All I know is that NYC is not what it is cracked up to be and I think Frank Sinatra if he were living would never sing “New York, New York” with pride seeing what that city had turned out to be under the control of Michael Bloomberg.

  28. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    The karaoke thing is quite popular in Asian countries to my understanding.

    It should not replace live music in this country, though and that is happening and seemingly more and more because of smoking bans.

    I think it is a comedy thing, too and should be a happy hour thing, but never a “prime time” thing putting musicians out of work.

    Yet that is the reality of the situation.

  29. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I also appreciate your comments concerning the obsession in this country with sports/technology as opposed to learning an instrument, etc.

    I am an educator also and have found that the exchange students from Europe I have worked with consider music to be a serious hobby, more so than what I have seen in this country as a rule.

    I have also noted that “self-starting” is an important work ethic concerning these students concerning their music studies.

    Seems here the most “successful” high school music programs are based on how many trophies a marching band can bring back from a competition, rather than learning musical sensitivity and creativity.

    Of course, many administrators see the trophies to display in the school showcase to be of more value than the individual fulfillment of students who choose to do music as an elective. For some, music has been a saving grace. Once I had a principal tell me if I could put up with a student who was a major discipline problem to do so as music was the only thing he liked and I was the only teacher he respected.

    Yet if this current trend of smoking bans continue, with venues closing right and left…..will there be an outlet for performance for those who are “called” to music, if you will.

    I have seen a trend of home concerts promoted through “word of mouth”since the smoking bans went in in our state.

    Perhaps this will become a trend to escape the current draconian control of the venues that are closing one by one because of the smoking bans, not to mention the entertainment budgets being cut because of the smoking bans.

    It all boils down to economics. If people don’t feel welcome in these places after the smoking bans are implemented, they simply do not go out and look for options like these home concerts….not to mention the casual home party instead of “hanging out” at a bar after work.

    Again, I am just stating the facts after seeing the damage smoking bans have brought to my state concerning my vocation.

  30. Posted February 14, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Rebeccar. I’m certainly opinionated, but I have learned to my chagrin that I am not always ‘100%’ right. Dialog is what brings us all closer to the truths in life, however, and I think most of us don’t do enough talking to each other or listening for that matter. It is easy to become intellectually and idealistically rigid when we don’t interact with people who may disagree with us.

  31. Posted February 14, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your comments on this subject, and I don’t disagree with you about the importance of music in a child’s development – we know it raises their math abilities and often their grade point average and should be valued for much more than trophies – but our American mentality has a huge competitive component to it. There are many problems with the music business from an economic point of view as you point out. It is beyond the question of whether or not people can smoke or not smoke somewhere. As only about 20% of the population does smoke, that leaves 80% of the people not supporting music the way it used to be supported.

    After the lack of education and exposure, the challenge for an entertainment form is marketing and promotion. Musicians are not the only ones suffering as even the regular TV networks are scrambling for content that will lure us away from other activities. Americans’ entertainment patterns have changed dramatically with the advent of technology and there are many other things – our children, Cable/Satelite TV, the Internet, video games, chat rooms, on-line reading, fitness clubs – that compete for our down time. Many in my parents’ generation went out every weekend at least one night, but what young urban family could afford to hire a sitter, go out for dinner and drinks at $8 to $20 a pop and then pay a cover charge? When inflation is taken into consideration, wages have decreased for the last ten to twelve years for the middle and lower classes. Unfortunately, the 10% of us not finding work have no money to pay for entertainment. The 90% of us working, but perhaps concerned about losing our jobs, are doing the work for those laid off which means we are staying longer at work to create the kind of productivity that amazes and thrills the business community but exhausts the person. Musicians who don’t have really great agents or managers to promote performance opportunities have to vigorously and continuously promote themselves.

    The only constant in our society is change, and although I hear my friends talk about the ‘good ole days’, truthfully? There were many things I would find charming today and certainly I loved my grandfather beyond description, but if I had been born even ten years earlier, the medical treatment that saved my life would not have existed. Am I grateful to live in this place and time? You bet!

    I find life now exhilarating and exciting (a near death experience will do that) but most of all challenging as I have to work hard to stay in that flow moving forward. Believe it or not, green building is one of those areas that completely thrills me. I hope my descendants will live healthier lives, longer than the family genetics have allowed so far, and that their children will inherit a world that respects all the beautiful things like nature, art, peace and music. In the interim I’ll continue to write and try to inspire and influence the change I’d like to see. But after your comments, I think I’ll hand my husband back his flowers and ask him instead to take me out tonight (Valentine’s Day) to a nice jazz club over in Portland.

    So don’t quit the day job and don’t give up, Verteran musician. Set up a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account and create your own ‘house parties’. If you do, somehow I think the world will become a more beautiful place. With what’s going on in our economy and our world, the last thing we need is to discourage our entertainers from entertaining us!

  32. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    The music business trouble certainly is beyond the smoking in bars or not thing, but the bans have been the thing that has made it very difficult for musicians to work on a regular basis immediately with immediate negative results when bans go in.

    A freelance jobber could do very well in my city before the ban and it has never been like this before the ban went in five years ago. One would think five years would be long enough for a “turnaround” as all these antismoking organizations promise, but there is no reality to it.
    It is only a way to smooth over objections to the bans using cherry picked date from NYC, LA or any other major music city.

    No 80’s recessions killed the live music business.
    The smoking ban really has as far as regular work.
    Working once every 4-6 weeks is all that can be expected at this time. That is no way to make a living.

    I am talking the grassroots problems of smoking bans concerning work locally, which present a regional and national problem and it’s already started.

    As far as CD marketing, change of formats in listening (IPod, downloading, etc..), these are problems we already had and clouds the discussion, but I acknowledge these problems. However, that has little to do with live music performance, other than the fact that there are fewer people in the club to buy your CD at your performance.

    Add the lack of local/regional work due to the smoking bans and we have an art form (live music) that may not survive as something someone can do professionally outside of the handful of classically trained musicians who will land orchestral positions.

    The classical organizations are in trouble for other reasons which I don’t care to go into to cloud the discussion at hand concerning those problems, either.

    However, I noted a couple of years back that cigarette taxes are something some orchestras use for funding. I believe I read this concerning the Cleveland Orchestra, which is one of the finest orchestras in the United States.

    One would think the least they could do would be to provide a smoking lounge for their patrons who smoke who are supporting their existence, but the state of Ohio does not even allow for that.

  33. Veteran Professional Musician
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I hope you did go to that jazz club, BTW on Valentines Day.

  34. Posted February 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Well, unfortunately, it was too hard a sell at the last minute, but we did make future plans. I am hoping that the pendulum will swing back to appreciation for live performances of all kinds. In the meantime I wish you the best of luck. Maybe musicians should investigate sharing in some of the ’sin taxes’ or in the hotel taxes that are distributed to the tourism industry. I doubt anyone is going to turn the non-smoking boat around, and although obviously many people have been adversely economically affected, smoking still isn’t good for anyone’s health.

  35. Posted February 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the “New Stiletto” booklet I referred you to! URL:

    – MJM

  36. Posted February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Again, Michael, I have nothing against people who want to smoke smoking, and make no judgments on the subject for the purposes of this conversation other than to report on what is going on. Do I think the anti-smoking lobby lies? Nope. When I smoked my cats coughed around me. That was all the proof I needed. I quit and they stopped coughing.:) I wish you luck with your campaign, but I do think the science is against you.

  37. Posted March 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, John. We appreciate all the encouragement.

  38. Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I want to thank the blogger very much not only for this post but also for his all previous efforts. I found to be very interesting. I will be coming back to for more information.

  39. Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for your gracious remarks. We’ll look forward to your input anytime.

  40. Cesar
    Posted August 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    We are living in an apartment complex in Washington State a lot longer than this rude manager that has just moved in below us. She smokes inside her room. We smell the smoke all over the room, very distracting and hard to sleep with it. In our leasing agreement it did not state “smoke free”. I am wondering what kind of manager she is. What should I do? Should I let her know first? Or get the hell out of this place?

  41. Cesar
    Posted August 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Why are people so rude? Go smoke to waste your money and ruin your health, but please stop getting someone else who does not smoke involved. Because it is a fact that it smells gross and is very unhealthy not only for yourself but for others around you.

  42. Posted August 22, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Hi Cesar, I completely sympathize with your problem, and honestly? According to the EPA, there is no way to keep secondhand smoke out of an apartment, but even if your lease doesn’t contain anything that forbids it, in some areas there are some new state and local codes that do. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined there is no ’safe’ amount of secondhand smoke, so a manager should take your concerns seriously. However, before you take the drastic step of moving, I might consider asking the manager to smoke outside and explain the issue. If that doesn’t work, I would contact the owner directly and explain your issue. He or she might consider converting the complex to ’smokefree’ – as it lowers insurance premiums and other expenses. Unfortunately, this won’t solve your immediate problem, as any smokers living in the building would generally be ‘grandfathered’ until their leases expired.

    Here is a link from the Environmental Protection Agency EPA) on coping with smoke from a neighbor’s apartment:

    This link

  43. Posted August 22, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    It is frustrating, Cesar, but nicotine has a powerful affect on the brain. I really don’t think anyone is trying to be rude, they just ‘need’ a cigarette. I can smell cigarette smoke on a person’s exhaled breath, but a smoker probably couldn’t. I also think smokers feel like outcasts as it is, so if you are going to take the direct approach of talking to your manager first and calmly and politely asking her/him for solutions… you might have better luck. Who knows? Maybe the manager will move (or at least smoke outside!).

  44. Mark Walcoff
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I just had to comment on Cesar’s comment.

    If being rude were against the law then where do you draw the line on how to legislate it? Just because one finds the smell of cigarette smoke offensive should we legislate body odor too? What if your neighbor cooked smelly foods or burned incense, should there be a law for that as well?

    The point is that there is no empirical science that would support outdoor environmental tobacco smoking bans appearing in cities in California. This is nothing more than a inconvenience to most and a political message to others. In the interim, all of these cities that have banned outdoor smoking still benefit from the exorbitant taxes they receive from tobacco sales.

  45. Posted September 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Mark, you are obviously a philosopher. I sort of like the old tribal way of dealing with aberrant behavior. A person would just be ’shunned’ if they did not conform to the community standard. I do agree, though. You can’t legislate bad taste or rudeness or get too concerned about all the things other people shouldn’t do. It’s much more productive to keep our eyes on our own side of the street.

    On the tax revenue? I don’t know any government officials who wouldn’t gladly give up tobacco taxes in exchange for healthier citizens.

  46. hideandseek
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I think that most smoking bans are triggered by politicians wanting the votes while they do nothing about the state opening another coal plant. In TX banning smoking is the thing to do for politicians to be popular. Near coal processing plants, the orchard trees are dying from the pollutants. The plants bring in big income and smoking bans give voters the sense that their governments are concerned with their health.

    Yes, I am a 56 yr old smoker. I have smoked since I was 14. My mother died at 73 from cancer and type 1 diabetes complications. My Aunt died from cancer. C’est la vie. There were good reasons they smoked. Life can be intolerable.

    When do they take away my right to smoke in my yard while they sink a gas well on the land behind me? When do they take away smoking from those with mental disorders (half of these people are unreported) and watch the suicide rate skyrocket?

    Politicians done look ahead when votes are to be gathered today.

  47. Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi SP. Thanks for your heartfelt comment, and please accept my condolences for your mom and aunt. Smoking is a very intense addiction and I don’t think anyone who hasn’t smoked can really understand how difficult it is to quit. You are probably aware that most adult smokers actually started smoking in their formative years – as you did at 14. University of Washington studies on nicotine’s effect on the brain also showed that women’s brains immediately respond to nicotine in a way that men’s brains don’t. This may be one of the reasons it is harder for women to quit – or maybe with the lower status most women hold in society, e.g., less job satisfaction, less power, greater family responsibilities and lower incomes… our lives are often more stressful.

    Your point is well-taken on the pollutants we seem willing to tolerate and the hypocrisy practiced by many politicians. I guess with only about a fifth of adults smoking these days, being anti-smoking has little political downside. On the other hand, secondhand smoke is harmful to others and the pollutants infiltrate building materials and ventilation systems. Let’s just hope our zealousness doesn’t start restricting people from smoking in their own yards!

    I cannot imagine how hard it would be to quit after smoking for 40 years. The good news is that no matter how old a person is, if he or she manages to quit, the body immediately starts trying to repair itself. I have two friends your age who still smoke but I know they have such mixed feelings about it. I also know they have tried to quit multiple times and stress in their lives has started them smoking again. I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

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