In 2016, Sunnyvale updated its smoking ordinance to prohibit smoking in multi-family housing, in outdoor dining areas, within 25 feet of building doors and windows, and in several other outdoor areas. These changes are designed to protect Sunnyvale residents, employees, and visitors from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Compliance with the new laws is required by October 1, 2016.
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If you have any questions, contact Neighborhood Preservation, 408-730-7610.
View the full law: Municipal Code 9.28 Regulation of Smoking.
Where Smoking is Prohibited
Smoking is prohibited in the following outdoor locations in the City:
- Outdoor dining areas where food or drink is consumed, including restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and office courtyards
- Within 25 feet from any operable doorway, window, opening, or vent of buildings
- Within 25 feet of "service areas," including:
- Transit stops or shelters
- Ticket lines
- Mobile vendor lines
- Cab lines
- Public events, including:
- Farmers' Markets
- Art & Wine Festival
- Anywhere on South Murphy Avenue between Washington Avenue and Evelyn Avenue
- Public parks, including golf courses
For more information on this law, see Sunnyvale Smokefree Outdoor Areas Law: Frequently Asked Questions.
Note that limited hookah smoking is allowed in two restaurants in the City: TL Beer Garden at 769 North Mathilda Avenue and Taverna Bistro at 133 South Murphy Avenue. These restaurants are permitted to allow hookah smoking only in designated areas specified in their permits.
Smoking is prohibited in multi-unit residences, including:
- Indoor common areas, such as lobbies, halls, elevators, stairs, community rooms, gym facilities, laundry rooms, shared cooking and eating areas, and parking garages
- Outdoor common areas, such as courtyards, paths, walkways, stairs, playground areas, swimming pool areas, and parking lots
- Within 25 feet from any operable doorway, window, opening, or vent of a multi-unit residence
- Inside any new or existing unit, including private and shared balconies and patios
The law applies to all properties with two or more units, including apartments, condominiums, and townhomes (properties with a shared wall). The law does not apply to mobile home parks.
For most multi-unit residences, the entire property must be smokefree, unless a designated smoking area is created. Designated smoking areas must meet certain requirements.
For more information on this law, see Sunnyvale Multi-Family Housing Law: Frequently Asked Questions.
For purposes of these laws, smoking includes the use of:
- Cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, hookah, and pipes
- Electronic smoking devices, such as e-cigarettes
California law prohibits smoking in all indoor workplaces, such as public and private offices, restaurants, bars, stores, malls, and places of worship. State law allows smoking in a few indoor locations such as:
- Up to 20 percent of guest rooms in hotels or motels that allow smoking
- Tobacco shops and private smokers' lounges that meet specified criteria
For more information on these laws, see the infographic on California's Clean Indoor Air Laws (pdf).
California law prohibits the sale of tobacco products (including electronic smoking devices) to anyone under the age of 21. More information on this law is available from the California Department of Public Health.
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Quitting tobacco use is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health and the health of your family.
The Santa Clara County Department of Public Health provides information on programs to help quit tobacco use. Or, see the list of tobacco cessation services (pdf) offered in Santa Clara County. Additionally, Breathe California offers the Ash Kickers smoking cessation program.
More information is also available from the American Lung Association.
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Sunnyvale law requires owners, landlords, property managers, and others with control of a property to post no-smoking signs clearly and conspicuously in locations where smoking is prohibited, including entrances. Signs are not required inside multi-unit residences.
Signs shall include letters at least one inch in height and the international "No Smoking" symbol. Signs posted on the exterior of buildings shall include the 25-foot requirement.
Businesses and multi-unit property owners/mangers may create their own signs that meet the requirements listed in the law. Or, the City has a limited number of free signs available (see below).
Businesses will need to post signs stating that smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of entrances, exits, and operable windows. For multi-unit residences, the City has signs stating that the property is smokefree. Additionally,"No Smoking" signs are available for locations that are entirely smokefree or not subject to the 25-foot requirement.
- Decals for windows (decals are 4" x 6")
- Metal signs for multi-unit residences, outdoor areas, or buildings (signs are 8" x 12")
- Table top signs for outdoor dining areas, including restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and office courtyards (signs are 3.5" x 3.5" x 3.5")
To request signs, contact Neighborhood Preservation
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The City expects a high degree of compliance with the smokefree laws once individuals are aware of the smoking limits. Individuals who smoke where smoking is prohibited may be subject to fines and/or prosecution. Below are answers to common compliance questions.
What should I do if I see someone smoking?
Laws that prohibit smoking in outdoor areas are largely "self-enforcing," meaning that most people will comply with the law once they know it exists. If you see someone smoking in an area where it is prohibited, politely inform them that smoking is not allowed. You may wish to point to a nearby "no smoking" sign to reinforce the message. Most people will comply with a polite request.
If the person continues to smoke, or if you see repeated violations of the smoking limits, contact Neighborhood Preservation, 408-730-7610.
If I am a business or location where smoking is prohibited, what are my requirements under the law?
Under the law, owners, operators, managers or other people with control over a place where smoking is prohibited are required to:
1. Post no-smoking signs clearly and conspicuously in locations where smoking is prohibited, including entrances. Signs shall include letters at least one inch in height and the international "No Smoking" symbol. Signs posted on the exterior of buildings shall include the 25-foot requirement. See No-Smoking Signs for more information.
2. Inform employees and patrons who are smoking about the law and ask them to stop smoking. Knowingly and intentionally allowing smoking in prohibited areas is a violation of the law.
If I own or manage multi-unit housing, what are my requirements under the law?
Under the law, owners, managers or others with control of multi-unit residences are required to:
1. Post no-smoking signs in locations where smoking is prohibited. Signs are not required inside multi-unit residences. Signs shall include letters at least one inch in height and the international "No Smoking" symbol. Signs posted on the exterior of buildings shall include the 25-foot requirement. See No-Smoking Signs for more information.
If your property has a designated smoking area you must post signs reading "Smoking is Prohibited Except in Designated Areas" at each entrance to a location where smoking is permitted.
2. Keep common areas free from ash trays or ash cans, except in designated smoking areas.
3. For rental housing, incorporate the smoking limits into the lease or rental agreement. Specifically, you must state that it is a material breach of the agreement to:
allow or engage in smoking inside the unit;
smoke in common areas except in an outdoor designated smoking area, if one exists; and
violate any law regarding smoking while anywhere on the property, such as smoking within 25 feet of doorways or windows.
Additionally, the lease must include a clause allowing other tenants to enforce the smoking provisions. For example, a tenant could bring a lawsuit in small claims court against their neighbor for smoking in violation of the lease.
Do you have a sample lease amendment that I can use for my property?
The Model Smokefree Lease Addendum (pdf) from Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights meets the requirements of the City ordinance. Additionally, the California Apartment Association's (CAA) Lease Agreement contains a smoking prohibition. This lease agreement form is available to CAA members.
Are condominiums and townhomes required to change governing documents, such as the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs)?
Condominium or townhouse complexes that wish to specifically reference smoking in their CC&Rs or house rules may want to adapt the Model Smokefree Lease Addendum (pdf) from Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. However, condominiums and townhomes are not required to amend the CC&Rs or house rules to prohibit smoking.
My tenant is smoking, what should I do?
If you are a landlord and a tenant is smoking, the tenant is not only violating the city law but s/he is also violating the lease. You may enforce the smoking violation as you would any other lease term.
For additional information on implementing a smokefree policy, the American Lung Association created a fact sheet on Steps for Effective Enforcement of Smokefree Policies. Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights has additional information for landlords on smokefree policies.
If the tenant is refusing to comply with the smoking law, contact the City and we will help you resolve the situation: Neighborhood Preservation, 408-730-7610.
My neighbor is smoking, what should I do?
Nearly 90% of people who live in Santa Clara County do not smoke. Those who do smoke are likely to comply with the new smoking law once they are aware of it. If you live in multi-unit housing (such as an apartment, condominium, or townhome) and your neighbor is smoking, we suggest that you:
Talk to your neighbor – let them know about the new law. You could provide them with a copy of Sunnyvale Smokefree Multi-Family Housing Law: Frequently Asked Questions. You also could provide them with information on the health effects of secondhand smoke. Check out these factsheets from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids or this information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Talk to your landlord – if your neighbor is smoking in violation of the city law, they are also violating their lease. The landlord can take action against that tenant. If you live in a condominium or a townhome, contact your Homeowner's Association or equivalent organization.
- If the neighbor is still smoking, contact the City and we will help you resolve the situation: Neighborhood Preservation, 408-730-7610.
Additional information and resources are available from Americans for Nonsmokers Rights.
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