News Details

Council Votes to Snuff Out Smoking in Multi-Use Residences

The City Council unanimously voted on Monday, December 5, 2016 to ban smoking at all multi-unit residences and common areas in order to help reduce the public's exposure to secondhand smoke.

The ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and landlords and sellers of condominium units will be required to give written notices to tenants and buyers about the smoking ban, and include smoking prohibitions as part of the terms of their rental agreements.
In February 2017, the City returned to Council with a draft local ordinance that includes any amendments made at the December meeting.

The City already has smoking bans in effect for the following areas:

• Commercial areas (regional and neighborhood)
• Outdoor dining areas
• Outdoor service areas: bus stops, ATMs, ticket lines, etc.
• All public events
• Places of employment, including construction worksites
• All parks and open space, including golf course
• Within 25 feet of enclosed areas

Exceptions to the current ban are allowed if there is a designated smoking area established and approved by the City that is at least 25 feet from buildings and includes a cigarette butt receptacle.

The City conducted a survey to multi-unit residential units in March 2015 and found:

• 80 percent said smoke inside the unit bothers them
• 64 percent indicated it bothers them very much
• 90 percent favor smoking restrictions in multi-unit housing

Tobacco Retailers

Council also voted on Monday to establish a permit program for tobacco retailers that will mainly be administered by Santa Clara County. The permit program prohibits permits from being given to any retail location within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer and prevents permits from transferring when a retail operation changes ownership. There are however grandfather provisions for tobacco retailers that have been operating since January 2011, and for retailers that have been selling electronic smoking devices since August 2014.   

The City of Palo Alto is currently scheduled to consider the draft Tobacco Retail Permits (TRP) Ordinance on Monday, September 18 at 6:00pm during the City Council meeting. You may also submit comments to City Council by emailing:


Smoking Ordinance Timeline

Smoking Prohibited in designated public areas

In effect

Effective date for multi-unit residential smoking ordinance requirements


Proposed revisions to the existing Smoking Ordinance to require Tobacco Retailers Permit  requirements

    • September 18, 2017 First Ordinance Reading

    • October, 2017 Second Ordinance Reading (date to be determined)

    • July 1, 2018 Retailers must have a Tobacco Retail Permit

    • January 1, 2019 Retailers must comply with all provisions of the TRP.



      For additional information, email or call (650) 329-2122.

      Last Updated December 6, 2016