Poway Residents Prefer Smoke-Free Outdoor Dining

New Public Opinion Poll shows strong support for a Smoke-Free Outdoor Dining Ordinance

The American Lung Association released results today from a survey of Poway residents showing overwhelming support for smoke-free outdoor dining policies for local restaurants.

The public opinion poll, conducted along with the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency and the San Diego State University Research Foundation, Institute for Public Health, revealed 88 percent of Poway residents believe cities should have laws prohibiting smoking on restaurant patios and at sidewalk cafes. Eleven cities and the unincorporated area of San Diego County already have smoke-free outdoor dining ordinances.

Some of the key findings of the 2020 survey, which was gathered online from 347 respondents, 232 of which live in Poway, show strong preference for tobacco-free outdoor dining. Among Poway residents’ responses:

  • 94% prefer to eat in a place where smoking is not allowed.
  • 82% had been bothered by smoke while dining outside at a restaurant.
  • 71% would eat out more often if dining patios were smoke-free.
  • If someone lit a cigarette next to them while eating outside:
    • 46% would ask to sit somewhere else.
    • 20% would hurry and leave.
    • 17% would do nothing.
    • 11% would ask the server to intervene.
    •   7% would ask the person smoking to put it out.

The link between secondhand smoke and lung disease has been well established for decades. Smoking and vaping have harmful health effects and release substances into the air such as nicotine, heavy metals, ultrafine particles, and volatile organic compounds. These substances can easily waft to diners at adjacent tables. Additionally, smoking and vaping cause lung irritation and can compromise the immune system, which likely makes people more susceptible to COVID-19 and has the potential to increase severity of complications if infected.

Smoke-free outdoor dining policies can also be good for business. This is critical at a time when restaurants struggle from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand that this is a challenging time for restaurants, but smoke-free outdoor dining can actually help, not hinder business,” said Pierra Moise, Health Promotions Specialist with the American Lung Association. She cites customer preference, a safer work environment, improved health conditions for restaurant employees, reduced risk of fire, and cleaner patios as tangible business improvements resulting from smoke-free policies.

Moise, who is also a member of the Poway Kiwanis and the Poway Chamber of Commerce, has been delivering a series of educational presentations, teaching Poway residents, restaurant owners and managers, and elected officials about the importance of smoke-free outdoor dining. She also assists restaurants in Poway that have voluntarily made the switch to smoke-free outdoor dining.

For a list of restaurants in Poway and throughout the County of San Diego that are smoke-free, visit www.smokefreesandiego.org.

For more information, contact:

Bo Smith
[email protected]

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