Friday, June 2, 2023

As City Ponders a New Outdoor Smoking Ordinance, Public Yawns

As the evidence against second-hand smoke grows and the number of smokers dwindle, more and more communities have passed laws that restrict outdoor smoking.

At its July 16 meeting the City Council will decided whether to join their ranks and beef up Coronado’s outdoor smoking laws.

Second hand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In San Diego County, the majority of cities ban smoking within 25 feet of outdoor dining areas. In Del Mar and Solana Beach, public smoking is outlawed everywhere, according to Lorenzo Higley, Director of Communities Against Substance Abuse.

In Coronado, outdoor smoking is only currently prohibited in parks, at the beach, and within 25 feet of a school, said Jerome Torres, system analysis for the City of Coronado. Indoor smoking in public places has been banned in California since 1998.

After complaints from residences the city council decided last March to review its current ordinance. Before it makes any recommendations, city staff is gauging public sentiment on a number of options for a new ordinance with a survey and a public workshop.

The response has been tepid. Fourteen people turned out for the workshop. Some 90 residents and two restaurants – The Firehouse and Il Fornaio — have filled out the survey thus far, according to Torres.

The deadline for the survey is Friday, July 12. The survey can be taken online (click here for the survey) or a paper copy can be requested from the City.

RELATED: City of Coronado Survey: Where do you want to be smoke free?

Efforts are underway by the Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet to get more people in the business community to respond to the survey, Torres said.

While the city won’t release survey results until it prepares its recommendations, the people who spoke at the workshop favored more restrictions, but no one advocated an outright ban. That’s something that Berry Dorsey, Rooms Director for Lowes Coronado Bay Hotel, cautioned against. He pointed out that Lowes is already a nonsmoking hotel with designated smoking areas for guests and team members who smoke.

“We don’t want a blanket ordinance applied to out hotel that would ban smoking in all areas,” he said. “It would be detrimental to our business and to our team members.” Public opinion is important. “What we recommend to the council will be based in part on the survey results,” Torres said. Short of a citywide ban, other options being considered are banning it on city sidewalks in the business district or just in out-door dining areas.

Most restaurants Coronado with outdoor dining are already smoke-free. The only exceptions are McPs’s Irish Pub & Grill and Café 1134, according to Higley. Neither sent a representative to the workshop. Dorsey, the Lowes representative, was the only person who spoke on behalf of a hotel.

The lack of a lot of public input thus far doesn’t concern City Manger Blair King. He expects the public will become more engaged as we the council vote gets closer.

“People don’t know the circus is in town until the tent goes up,” he said.

Gloria Tierney

Staff Writer

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Gloria Tierney
Gloria Tierney
A freelance writer in San Diego for more than 30 years. She has written for a number of national and international newspapers, including the Times of London, San Diego Tribune, Sierra Magazine, Reuters News Service and Patch.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]