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Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance

Landlords, Property Managers and Developers

It is well established that secondhand smoke is harmful to your health. Many people living in apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and single room occupancy hotels (SROs) suffer from secondhand smoke. The smoke from nearby units or people smoking outside can drift into their home. Drifting secondhand smoke can make a home an uncomfortable and unhealthy place to live.

Effective January 1, 2011, Contra Costa County's Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance includes more protections for residents of multi-unit housing (buildings with 4 or more units) in all of the unincorporated areas of the county. Owners, managers and landlords of multi-unit housing in unincorporated Contra Costa County are responsible for compliance with all applicable laws.

Landlord Toolkit

This Toolkit has been developed to assist owners, managers and landlords come into compliance with the law.

For more information contact the Tobacco Prevention Project at 888-877-4202.

The Contra Costa County Secondhand Smoke Protections Ordinance includes the following protections in Multi-unit housing with 4 or more units in the unincorporated county:


Smoking (including the use of a hookah pipe, medical marijuana or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) such as an e-cigarette) is prohibited in the following areas of multi-unit housing with 2 or more units (County Code Chapter 445-4.004):
  • Common indoor and outdoor areas;
  • Within 20 feet of doors, windows, air ducts and ventilation systems, except while walking from one destination to another;
  • On all balconies, patios, decks and in carports; and
  • In 100% of dwelling units of multi-unit housing residences (with 4 or more units) that receive a building permit after January 1, 2011.


Under the law, the Owner and Manager of a multi-unit housing building must:
  • Post "No smoking" signs with letters of not less than one inch in height, or the international "No Smoking" symbol (consisting of a burning cigarette in a red circle with a red bar across it). The sign must be visibly posted in every building or other place where smoking is prohibited by law (County Code Chapter 445-4.008);
  • Not allow ashtrays or other receptacles for disposing of smoking material where smoking is prohibited (County Code Chapter 445-4.010);
  • Not knowingly allow smoking in smoking prohibited areas (County Code Chapter 445-8.002); and
  • Comply with lease/rental agreement requirements outlined in the next section (County Code Chapter 445-4.014).


Under the law, the Owner and Manager of a multi-unit housing building must:
  • Maintain and keep on file at the premises: (1) a list of all designated nonsmoking units at the residence; (2) a floor plan of the residence that identifies the location of all designated non-smoking units, any units where smoking is permitted and any designated outdoor smoking areas (County Code Chapter 445-4.012); and
  • With every new lease or rental agreement for the occupancy of a unit in a multi-unit residence, include:
    • A copy of the list of nonsmoking units section (County Code Chapter 445-4.012)
    • A copy of the floor plan section (County Code Chapter 445-4.012);
    • Information indicating whether a policy for handling smoking complaints is in effect at the multi-unit residence, and if so, the terms of the policy (County Code Chapter 445-4.012); and
    • A clause stating it is a material breach of the lease to a) violate any law regarding smoking while on the premises; b) smoke in a non-smoking unit; or c) smoke in any multi-unit residence common area where smoking is prohibited. (The California Apartment Association's form 34.0 may be used for this purpose) section (County Code Chapter 445-4.014).


Under certain conditions, landlords may designate a common outdoor area of a multi-unit housing residence as a smoking area (County Code Chapter 445-4.006).

A designated smoking area of an outdoor common area of a multi-unit residence must:

  • not overlap with any area where smoking is otherwise prohibited by local, state, or federal law;
  • be located at least twenty-five feet in all directions from nonsmoking areas;
  • not include areas used primarily by children;
  • be no more than twenty-five percent of the total outdoor common area; and
  • have a clearly marked perimeter; and must be identified by conspicuous signs;

Resources for Landlords Outside of Unincorporated Contra Costa