December 9, 2020—San Francisco was set to become the largest city to enact a smokefree multi-unit housing law, but the Board of Supervisors decided to send the proposal back to committee on December 8 instead of approving the second reading of the ordinance.

The proposed law would have required all apartments, condominiums, and other multi-unit residences with three or more units to be free from tobacco smoking and vaping starting in January.

Unfortunately, the Supervisors voted 10-1 at the prior hearing on December 1 to have the proposal not apply to smoking and vaping marijuana. This exemption is very problematic and means that residents who are suffering from breathing their neighbors’ drifting marijuana smoke would not be protected by the ordinance.

The decision to send the proposal back to committee instead of giving it final approval was initiated by a Supervisor who heard from people concerned about the potential negative impact on low-income residents. However, the fact is that low-income residents tend to have more exposure to drifting secondhand smoke at home and are more likely to have health issues like asthma that are exacerbated by breathing secondhand smoke. Everyone living in multi-unit housing, regardless of their financial situation, deserves to have a safe, healthy, and stable living environment.

There is a potential for the ordinance to be addressed by the Board in 2021. In the interim, it is a good opportunity for advocates to continue education and outreach to deepen support among residents, which is needed because the proposal moved forward quickly.

San Francisco residents living in multi-unit housing should be able to breathe air that is free from all types of secondhand smoke exposure. This is especially important now that COVID-19 means people are spending so much more time at home, instead of spending their days in smokefree schools and smokefree workplaces.

San Francisco would be in good company by joining more than 60 California cities and counties that have already adopted laws requiring all multi-unit housing to be 100% smokefree, including its neighboring communities of South San Francisco, Daly City, and Millbrae.

Find more information and resources about smokefree housing here: