SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced today that Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law SB 332. This new law expands the availability of smoke-free housing in California by allowing landlords to prohibit smoking in rental units. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2012.

“With the Governor’s action today, we will see the availability of smoke-free, multi-family housing grow throughout California,” said Senator Padilla. “While more than 86% of Californians do not smoke, there is currently very little smoke-free housing in California. Living in multi-family housing should not compromise the health of renters or their children.  This new law will provide tenants with healthier choices,” said Padilla.

Currently, a landlord may include terms in a rental agreement such as restricting pets, noise, and specific furniture such as waterbeds.  Despite the negative health effects of secondhand smoke there is nothing in current law that explicitly permits a landlord to restrict smoking.  SB 332 would change this while complying with all federal, state, and local requirements governing changes to the terms of a rental or lease agreement.

Over 30 percent of California housing is multi-family residences. Secondhand smoke can travel in and out of open windows and doors, through shared ventilation systems, walls, ceiling crawl spaces, and gaps around electrical wiring, light fixtures, plumbing, ductwork, and even baseboards.

In 2006, the State of California Air Resources Board identified secondhand smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a group A carcinogen, the most dangerous class of carcinogen.

“We know that second hand smoke is harmful. With this new law renters will have much greater chance of finding a smoke-free environment in which to live,” said Senator Padilla.

A December 2010 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children who live in apartments where no one smokes inside have a 45% increase in cotinine levels (used to measure tobacco exposure) compared with detached homes. The report states that multi-family housing may be a significant source of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure for children, at levels associated with morbidity. The report concludes that, “ultimately, smoke-free multiunit housing could improve health status by reducing nonsmokers’ exposure to tobacco smoke in their own units.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 49,400 deaths among nonsmokers each year in the United States, including 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 deaths due to heart disease. Secondhand smoke exposure causes as many as 300,000 children in the United States under the age of 18 to suffer lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.