Smoking Ban Near Outdoor Dining Areas Starts Tuesday

That means no smoking in outdoor dining areas

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Starting Tuesday, it will be illegal to smoke in  outdoor dining areas throughout Los Angeles, including at restaurant patios and  around mobile food trucks.

Bars, nightclubs and buildings hosting private events are exempt from  the policy. Those who violate the smoking ban -- diners and business owners  alike -- face fines up to $500.

The state already prohibits lighting up inside restaurants and bars. The city is expanding the smoking ban to within 10 feet of outdoor dining areas,  including food courts; and within 40 feet of food kiosks, food cars and mobile  food trucks.

In a news conference last week, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city  is setting "a standard for healthy living.''

The city council approved the smoking ban in January last year, but  businesses were given a grace period before the ordinance takes effect.

Los Angeles will become the largest city in the nation to outlaw smoking  in outdoor dining areas. Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Glendale, Pasadena and  Santa Monica also have similar policies.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director and health officer of the county Health  Department, said, "This ordinance continues Los Angeles' commitment to  protecting the health of our residents and reducing the risk of heart disease,  cancer, emphysema and the many other diseases associated with tobacco smoke."

He added the vast majority of Los Angeles County residents -- 85.7  percent -- are non-smokers.

The council is considering another ordinance that would ban smoking in  "all public areas and common areas where people congregate.'' Its chief  proponent, Councilman Bernard Parks, said the idea is not to ban smoking, but  to regulate where it can be done.

He called in November for a comprehensive and citywide ordinance that  would ban smoking in "all public areas and common areas where people  congregate, including, but not limited to, indoor and outdoor businesses,  hotels, parks, apartment common areas, restaurants and bars, and beaches.''

Vanessa Peterson with the American Lung Association told the council in  November that tobacco is the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in  California, and that more than 60,000 Americans exposed to second-hand smoke  die each year.

A study prepared by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department  showed about 1 million smokers countywide and about 435,000 in the city. The  same study estimated that tobacco-related diseases cost the county $4.3 billion  a year. 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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