The Assembly approved a bill Monday that would ban smoking inside home day care centers even after the children have left, a regulation that targets lingering "third-hand smoke" and has been adopted by 12 other states.
The chamber passed the measure by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, on a 55-8 vote, with some Republican lawmakers opposed.
Smoking already is banned in homes that function as day care centers during their operating hours to prevent kids from being exposed to secondhand smoke. But Hall says recent research shows even off-hour smoking places children at risk.
"Exposure to second- and third-hand smoke is a real danger to the health of these young, developing individuals," he said. Hall also was behind a law to require smoke-free environments for foster homes.
Assembly GOP spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said members of her party were concerned about the government imposing regulations on business owners in their off-hours and the structure of the bill.
Supporters of the ban say the danger comes from smoke and cancer-causing compounds penetrating furniture, toys and other objects, which children can touch with their mouths.
Researchers recently have started focusing on the effects of third-hand smoke, including a 2013 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, an U.S. Department of Energy lab managed by the University of California system. The study found the lingering smoke damages DNA in human cells and is especially dangerous for children and difficult to eradicate from clothes and carpets.
If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by the governor, California would join 12 other states that already ban smoking in home day cares at all times -- while 25 others only forbid smoking when children are inside, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database. The CDC says local law enforcement and health departments enforce California's existing law, and state regulators say they enforce it based on complaints and during inspections.
Hall says day care providers can still smoke outside their homes if children have left their care. The bill doesn't specify penalties for smoking inside during off-hours at the state's 36,000 facilities, but existing rules call for an infraction and a $100 penalty for lighting up in the presence of children attending day care.
The state may suspend or pull licenses from repeat offenders, said Michael Weston, a spokesman for the California Department of Social Services.
Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, asked Hall how the bill would apply to medical marijuana users.
"Any exposure to smoke is a danger to children," Hall responded, before quipping, "Do you smoke your marijuana in your home in front of your kids?"