LAGUNA BEACH, CA – A plan to ban smoking throughout the city, including on sidewalks, bike paths, alleys and in parking structures, is moving forward and could be a first in Orange County.
The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to pursue the citywide effort, directing Chief of Police Laura Farinella to come up with a plan for enforcement and staff members to develop an ordinance.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd said he backed the idea but wondered about the difficulty of enforcement and how the fines would be handled.
“It’s going to be difficult in Laguna Beach where we have six million visitors,” he said. “I walk at Heisler Park a lot and see a lot of butts. We have so many European, Asian and out-of-town visitors, they don’t know the rules. We have to figure out how to enforce this thing. This isn’t easy.”
The citywide ordinance would expand the no-smoking ban already in place at the beaches, beach access points, restaurants with indoor and outdoor dining, parks and wildland areas to sidewalks, parking structures and alleys. People would only be allowed to smoke in their homes and vehicles, said Ryan Hallett, an analyst in the city manager’s office who prepared Tuesday’s report.
In California, 70 cities have adopted some sort of outdoor smoking ban. Manhattan Beach paased a citywide ban in 2014 and Calabasas in 2008.
Laguna Beach would be the first Orange County city with a citywide smoking ban, Hallett said.
Council members said they started considering the ban after getting complaints from residents about second-hand smoke in alleys, sidewalks, parking structures and other public places.
Mayor Toni Iseman said she was particularly moved by the plight of a resident in the Arch Beach Heights area.
“I got an email from a man with a son with asthma who has a neighbor sitting on his front porch smoking,” Iseman said. “The smoke would go into his house and trigger an asthma attack. And (the neighbor) refused to give up smoking cigarettes on his porch. We were without recourse.”
The ban would also apply to vapes and e-cigarettes. Last summer Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of tobacco bills that included these devices in the state’s smoking ban restriction. The ban would also apply to smoking marijuana in the same places tobacco smoking is prohibited.
A citywide survey on a range of topics taken last summer indicated that 75 percent of Laguna Beach residents approved the idea of a citywide ban on smoking.
Hallett told the council that a recent report on tobacco control by the American Lung Association lumped Laguna Beach in among 31 of 34 cities in Orange County that received a failing grade in their overall control of tobacco.
Nearby Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods and Santa Ana were rated a “C” for their tobacco control because of stricter local policies for outdoor venuesand local tobacco retail licenses, he said.
Laguna Hills bans smoking in areas that are enclosed and publicly accessible like galleries, libraries and sports arenas. Laguna Woods bans smoking in libraries, museums, outdoor dining areas and public events sponsored or co-sponsored by the city.
Laguna Beach put its first smoking ban in effect in 1985, and has broadened it six times since then.
Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede echoed Boyd’s concerns about enforcement issues but said he wants Laguna to be a role model for other cities.
“I don’t want to be one of those 31 cities, I want other cities to look at us and say, ‘They did it down in Laguna.’”