It is already illegal to smoke in bars, restaurants, and public spaces in most California cities. And while the non-smoking California law passed in 1998, Long Beach officials want to close the loopholes that allow smoking sections on outdoor patios.
On August 21, Long Beach’s City Council recommended the City Attorney draft an ordinance to ban smoking on outdoor seating areas for both public and privately-owned restaurants. The recommendations also recommends that smokers keep a specific distance away from the establishment. According to the Long Beach Post, the current municipal code allows Long Beach restaurants to keep a small designated smoking section, as long as it’s outside. The rule applies only if the restaurant keeps two-thirds of the outdoor area as “non smoking,” but cigar lounges and hookah lounges are exempt.
Long Beach wavers back and forth between smoking rights and outright prohibition. Smoking is prohibited in most public spaces, and back in 2008, Long Beach became a rigorous enforcer of enforcing the non-smoking ban, where smokers and businesses were fined up to $500 for each violation. In 2009, the council passed a proposal that allowed smoking in Long Beach’s cigar lounges.
This week’s action is a response to what city officials describe as a loophole that still allows smoking, while exposing people to second-hand smoke. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia chimed in to the proposal, and suggested the ordinance add language recognize the difference between bars that serve snacks and restaurants.