No Smoking - Even At Home?

Belmont, Calif., is home to a tough new anti-smoking law - and a tough old smoker, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

Edith Frederickson came there from Germany 40 years ago and has been smoking two packs a day even longer than that. But now in Belmont it's illegal for her to light up inside her own home.

"Just the fact that somebody forces me to do something goes against my grain!" she said.

But Coralin Feierbach of the Belmont City Council says: "She's gonna have to smoke outside, where everybody else smokes."

Feierbach pushed Belmont's new law banning smoking inside apartments and condos to protect neighbors.

"Overwhelming evidence shows that secondhand smoke is dangerous, even for a few seconds," Feierbach said. "We don't want to be around anybody who smokes."

"This idea that I am killing other people is ridiculous!" Frederickson said. "Prove it!"

At 72, Frederickson rejects the science on smoking, insisting she's in robust health.

"The cigarettes aren't gonna kill me," she said. "They haven't done it yet."

Police don't go around peeking in apartment windows in Belmont. But if apartment building neighbors complain about a smoker next door, officers can come knocking.

Frederickson says what she does in her own apartment is no one else's business. We visited her before the law took effect when her home was still her castle.

"There has to be something in the Constitution that guarantees my happiness -- and smoking makes me happy," she said.

What also makes her happy right now is carrying the torch for smokers' rights - keeping the heat on city council.

"I don't know what to do!" Feierbach said. "I mean, maybe she'll move."

For now Frederickson seems immovable.

She won't admit to breaking the law, but she fumes, "just try" to catch her.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.