November 22 -- If you want to smoke after your shopping
spree this weekend, you’d better watch where you light up
in Santa Monica.
Starting Thanksgiving Day, a new law kicks into effect that expands
Santa Monica’s far-reaching smoking ban to include all outdoor
dining areas, farmers markets and the Third Street Promenade.
Approved by the
City Council last month, the law also stamps out smoking in
outdoor waiting areas -- such as ATMs, bus stops and movie lines
-- and areas around public buildings that are within 20 feet of
entrances, exits or windows that can open.
After the law goes into effect, City officials will educate local
businesses about the ban, provide table-top information at restaurants
and offer posters online that can be easily downloaded.
"Our intent right now is to educate as many people as possible,"
said Paula Rockenstein, an attorney and consumer affairs specialist
with the City. "Obviously, we are not going to be going out
and citing people right away."
Still police can cite those violating the law if they feel there
is a need to do so, City officials said.
“If necessary, and if a smoker refuses a request to stop
smoking in a prohibited location, police officers may also give
citations,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky, who
is in charge of consumer affairs.
Violators would face fines of $250 for an infraction that would
be similar in nature to a jaywalking citation, he said.
Capt. Alex Padilla, the Police Department spokesperson, said
officers have been briefed to "warn and advise," but
added that it is up to them to decide whether to issue a ticket.
"They can exercise their judgement," Padilla said.
The law is Santa Monica’s latest attempt to cut down on
deadly second-hand smoke, after the California Air Resources Board
(CARB) declared it a toxic substance at any level earlier this
"We want to create a more healthy environment for our residents
and visitors," Rockenstein said.
Rockenstein – who co-authored the law – said she
has been fielding calls for the past week from a number of individuals
and businesses concerned about how it could impact their bottom
“People want to know all sorts of things," she said.
"How it will affect revenue… has been a big concern,
though, from the beginning."
The tourism industry – which pumps an estimated $50 million
into the City’s economy each year – has expressed
particular concern over how the ban could impact tourism.
Last week nearly 50 people packed into a room at the new library
to ask questions and voice concerns in a meeting with City attorneys
organized by the Chamber of Commerce.
"There has been concern… but more concern because
it may be confusing for customers or guests," said James
Lynch, the new president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. "It
mostly stems from not wanting guests to have misunderstandings."
Hotels, for example, want to know if the law bans smoking in
the pool areas where food is served, Lynch said.
"Just how do you tell your guests where it's not okay to
light up," he said. "I think for hotels, many believe
that guests could choose to go somewhere else or that return guests
may not choose them next time."
One of the challenges will be overcoming cultural barriers. "Some
cultures smoke quite a bit," Lynch said.
For the most part, many businesses want to make a smooth transition,
which will require educating the public, City officials said.
In addition to the question and answer session with businesses,
the City also is sending out high-gloss flyers, and officials
have launched a web site to help steer residents and visitors
in the right direction.
City officials are also exploring posting more signs in at least
three different languages, all part of a comprehensive effort
to make the City healthier without hurting revenue.
"We all want to work together on this," Rockenstein