|Smokers Flaut City Ordinance|
Published: Friday, 07 September 2012 07:38
Critics say implementation lacking
On Jan. 2, the city's secondhand smoke ordinance went into effect.
"The bottom line: Smoking is prohibited in public spaces," the city stated in a release announcing the ordinance.
The decree forbids smokers from lighting up in all outdoor public places, including commercialarea sidewalks on Park and Webster streets and the smaller shopping districts that dot Alameda. Smoking is also forbidden in dining areas, recreation areas, service areas, shopping malls, outdoor events and within 20 feet of any enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.
Jon Spangler takes particular umbrage at the continuing presence of smokers on Park Street. His wife and business partner, Linda Hudson, has chronic asthma and serious allergies, making secondhand smoke a significant concern.
"I don't think these smokers are primarily folks who are ignoring or flouting the ordinance, but people who just do not know the smoking ban exists."
"The continuing presence of secondhand smoke is a real determinant of where we dine and shop, and where we can feel safe."
Spangler said. "Park Street is still not a safe place for our lungs." He said that he and his wife have encountered smokers puffing away on the public sidewalks, apparently in complete ignorance of the new ordinance.
Spangler points out that the city has not posted any signs informing the public about the ban. He said that smokers "have been universally surprised when I have told them that a no-smoking ban was in place as of January."
"Most have quickly complied with my request (to stop smoking)," he said. "But by then it is already too late for my wife."
The ordinance reaches past the shopping districts and prohibits smoking in all indoor and outdoor areas of employment. These include owner-operated businesses that are open to the public, as well as all vehicles used as a worksites, like taxicabs, tractors, trucks and buses.
The law also protects apartment and condominium dwellers.
It forbids smoking in all new multi-unit rental and commoninterest areas. Lighting up on a balcony or porch is also against the law.
In January, Mayor Marie Gilmore called the ordinance a significant step in protecting the public from the health dangers of secondhand smoke. "That's why we directed staff to prepare an A+ ordinance. The public needs to be protected."
Spangler said that the city needs to do more than just pass an ordinance.
"Until real implementation occurs — from signage and broad public education to enforcement efforts — the no-smoking ordinance will, unfortunately, not be worth the paper it was written on," he said.