City to consider sweeping laws on smoking

Could become first in county to earn an ‘A’ from Lung Association

If history is any indication, smokers in Solana Beach could soon be facing another pack of extinguishing restrictions.

In 1993, the city became the first to outlaw smoking in restaurants.

In 2001, Solana Beach was the first to ban lighting-up on beaches.

Later this month, it will consider how much staff time to invest in researching the possibilities of a variety of tools that could make it the first in the county to limit smoking in apartments or multi-unit housing.

Currently El Cajon is the only city in San Diego County that extends its public smoking ban to common areas of apartment buildings. It does not, however, limit use in apartments themselves.

Thought of by many as a champion of anti-smoking legislation, Solana Beach was one of only 15 cities in California last year to receive an overall “B” grade in the American Lung Association’s anti-smoking annual report card. Just four out of the more than 400 jurisdictions assessed in the state received “A’s”. The reason the top grade is so rare is that cities must take steps to limit smoking in apartment buildings, which is controversial and can be hard to enforce.

“I don’t take issue with their efforts to ban smoking in public places, but when you’re talking about people’s homes you need to be very cautious about how you proceed,” said Michelle Slingerland, public affairs manager for the San Diego County Apartment Association, adding that landlords are free to impose their own smoking limitations if they so wish.

Nearly 14 percent of Californians smoke, as compared to roughly 20 percent for the rest of the country, according to the Lung Association’s most recent figures.

Debra Kelley, senior director of advocacy for the group’s San Diego office, said second-hand smoke poses a major health risk when drifting from unit to unit in apartment buildings.

“If you can smell the smoke there’s already a significant level of exposure taking place,” she said.

The city council could consider a resolution requiring a certain percentage of apartments in each building to be non-smoking, or even one defining secondhand smoke as a “public nuisance,” enabling someone to sue if an issue becomes irresolvable.

“Basically it’s just another tool for private citizens to protect their health if they so choose to do that,” Councilman Dave Roberts said.

While no other city in the county currently has a public nuisance law, Kelley said task forces in the City of San Diego and National City are currently looking into them. Also, San Diego County ranked top 25 in several categories of most polluted metropolitan areas in the ALA’s State of the Air Report released last week.

Mayor Tom Campbell said the issues around smoking should be discussed and prioritized when the council goes over next year’s budget at a meeting later this month. Some ideas were referred to as “low-hanging fruit” that would require less staff time to enact.

Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner said she liked the idea of a disclosure requirement, where landlords would have to provide prospective tenants details about smoking in the building.

Since Solana Beach got “A’s” in two of the three categories of the Lung Association’s grading system, Kelley said the city could become the first in the county to earn an overall “A” if it banned smoking in common areas of apartment buildings and enacted disclosure to prospective tenants. It would not need to limit smoking in actual apartments to earn this grade since the averages from the other two categories, which are outdoor smoke-free policies and limiting tobacco access, would boost its overall score.

“The purpose of this is not to get to an ‘A,’” Roberts said. “The purpose of this is to protect our citizens from second-hand smoke.”

Related posts:

  1. City of Solana Beach receives ‘B’ grade for its anti-smoking policies
  2. Expanded cafe smoking ban explored by city
  3. Smoking ban gets mixed reviews
  4. Solana Beach City Council expands smoking ban
  5. Del Mar council OK’s downtown smoking ban

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Posted by on May 6, 2010. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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