City Council Considers Tougher Laws Aimed At Smokers

New law would ban smoking in five small businesses that sell tobacco products

(April 2, 2010)

camarillo-acorn

April 2, 2010

Smokers in Camarillo may have fewer places to light up if the City Council approves an ordinance banning smoking in most public and some private places.

The council took up the subject at a March 24 study session after two business men asked about opening a smoking lounge earlier this year.

The current city ordinance doesn't address smoking lounges. It does allow people to smoke inside retail tobacco stores.

Among other restrictions, the proposed law would prohibit smoking in retail stores unless the business earns at least 90 percent of its income from tobacco related sales and is located in a free-standing building.

Councilmember Charlotte Craven said she's opposed to people smoking in any store or building.

Don Waunch was among the council majority who wanted a less restrictive law.

Waunch said it's admirable to protect children and others but "you can't just restrict everybody." He said there would be a problem enforcing a law that's too prohibitive.

Jerry Bankston, city manager, said there are five retail tobacco stores in Camarillo and none are in free-standing buildings.

If the new law goes into effect, the stores would not be required to relocate but could not allow smoking.

Originally, the proposed law required retail tobacco stores to obtain 75 percent of their income from tobacco sales.

Jack Nicholl of the American Lung Association suggested during public comments that the council increase the profit threshold to 90 percent. The California Department of Public Health has found some establishments trying to skirt the law when sales of incidental items are above 10 percent, Nicholl said.

"You're going to have smoking cafes in this city, and this will effectively undermine" your efforts, Nicholl said.

Registered nurse Allison Barton told the council secondhand smoke is especially harmful to children under 7.

She said she favors a smoking ban in all retail stores.

"We really have a responsibility to protect everyone, and children do not have a choice where they go," Barton said. "Adults do."

The proposed law would allow people to smoke cigars, pipes and cigarettes in smoking lounges that must earn at least 90 percent of their income from tobacco related sales.

The City Council is expected to review the proposal at the April 14 meeting.

If the council then approves the law and a second reading occurs at the April 28 council meeting, the law would go into effect 30 days later, on May 28.