San Francisco Reverses Ban on Smoking inside Apartments

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. ordinance / ˈɔr dn əns / (n) – a law passed by a local government

    The city has an ordinance against the sale of fireworks.

  2. tenant / ˈtɛn ənt / (n) – someone who rents or occupies land or a space

    The two-bedroom apartment currently has two tenants.

  3. secondhand smoke / ˈsɛk əndˈhænd smoʊk / (n) – cigarette smoke that can be inhaled by people other than the smoker

    I always stay away from smoking areas to avoid breathing in secondhand smoke.

  4. communal / kəˈmyun l / (adj) – describing something that can be used by everyone in a house, community, etc.

    My dormitory has a communal dining room where everyone can eat.

  5. infringe / ɪnˈfrɪndʒ / (v) – to restrict or limit something, such as someone's rights

    It’s against the law to infringe on people’s privacy.


Read the text below.

The local government of San Francisco reversed its decision to pass an ordinance that bans cigarette smoking inside apartments.

Last December, the majority of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to ban cigarette smoking inside apartments, saying that nonsmoking tenants should be free from secondhand smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 41,000 deaths are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, while more than 480,000 people die from cigarette smoking every year.

Cigarette smoking is already illegal in communal spaces in residential establishments. Under the ordinance, smoking will also be prohibited inside private rooms in buildings with three or more apartment units. Violators would be educated by the Department of Public Health on how they could manage their smoking habits, but repeat offenders would face a $1,000 fine every day. However, they could never be evicted from their homes.

Despite its good intentions, the ordinance prompted debate among its supporters, the supervisors, and apartment tenants. After a second reading a week later, six of the 11 officials voted to have the ordinance reviewed again. Some officials who were originally in favor of the ban said that they reconsidered their decision after hearing public concerns about the ordinance. Those who oppose the ban said that it infringes on their rights to do what they want inside their own homes.

However, advocates of the ordinance, including its author, Norman Yee, argued that prioritizing the well-being of non-smokers is more important than the rights of smokers.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the ordinance to ban cigarette smoking inside apartments? Why or why not?
• Do you think the rights of smokers are equally important as the rights of non-smokers? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Despite the dangers and risks of smoking, why do you think some people still smoke? Explain.
• Do you think people who smoke cigarettes should switch to alternatives like e-cigarettes or vaping devices? Why or why not?

Category : Health