The City Council has unanimously voted to take another step toward banning smoking in the City. Effected areas include outdoor dining areas; outdoor service areas; areas within 20 feet of entrances, exits or open windows of buildings open to the public; the Third Street Promenade; and the Farmers’ Markets.
The Council voted 6-0 on the “first reading” of the ordinance. If adopted on the second reading scheduled for October 24, the new law would take effect 30 days later on Thanksgiving day, November 23.
The action on Tuesday evening was a response to the mounting scientific evidence compiled by the Air Resources Board that secondhand smoke should be classified as a “toxic air contaminant” because it is linked to adult incidences of lung and nasal sinus cancer, heart disease, eye and nasal irritation, and asthma, as well as health issues in children and newborns.
The Council had already banned smoking in all City parks in April 2003, and in March of 2004 they banned it at all City beaches, government service waiting areas and at the Santa Monica Pier.
Prior to the vote, the Council heard input from the community. Most of the input supported the expanded ban. Kelly Wallace, however, co-owner of a Third Street Promenade establishment, worried that “a smoking ban will have an adverse effect on tourism in our City.”
Bruce Cameron expressed his concern, “To say there would be no fiscal impact is wrong because we don’t know.” He then mentioned that such a ban could deter tourists coming from countries where smoking is permitted. He was also worried that by the Council approving this they were “preempting” the actions the Environmental Protection Agency would be taking on this issue. He concluded, “Frankly, the City is addicted to wanting to be perceived as being on the cutting edge.”
Representing the California Clean Air Project, Dianne Kyser told the Council that a survey by her organization of the California cities that have implemented similar ordinances found “all cities reported that they had no negative feedback from business or public entities or the general public…and no reports of a deterioration of business.”
Neil Carrey stressed, “It’s been proven again and again a healthy environment encourages tourism and business. This is a chance for Santa Monica to take another step forward…to make this a more healthy place.”
Others spoke about the health benefits. Robert Berger emphasized to the Council, “Cigarettes took my mother’s life. Think about the impact cancer and other tobacco-related diseases have had on your loved ones.”
This ban “will help smokers because they find it difficult to stay abstinent when involuntarily exposed to other people’s smoke” stated UCLA tobacco researcher William McCarthy.
Colleen Callahan, representing the American Lung Association, stressed to the Council, “Any exposure to secondhand smoke whether inside or outside is harmful.”
Councilmember Herb Katz summed up the Council’s support for the expanded ban by stating, “I’m really chagrined that somebody always talks about why we shouldn’t do it. It’s because of economics and tourism. I love tourism and I love our City, but it isn’t everything. Health is. Let’s quit being afraid of losing money and save lives.”