By Daniel Ritz

After more than an hour-long debate at the City Council meeting on Dec. 5, a first reading was held of an ordinance amending chapter 6.40 of the Dana Point municipal code relating to the regulation and prohibition of smoking in the city.

Dana Point City Manager Mark Denny said that city staff’s research of secondhand smoke and the health impacts supported the initiatives within the ordinance.

Numerous public speakers offered testimony to the impact of cigarettes on public health and the environment.

Councilman Muller said that requested research had not been supplied for the ordinance to be read. He expressed concerns of the impact on tourism, and a lack of cohesiveness with established county and state precedents. With most of the beaches of Dana Point managed by the county or the state, jurisdiction and enforcement on the most impacted regions of the city were areas of concern that Muller felt were not addressed.

Councilman, and newly appointed mayor, Richard Viczorek seconded these enforcement concerns.

“I’m not a smoker, never have been,” said Viczorek. “But I’m not for symbolic laws. Is is a littering problem or is this a smoking problem?”

The first reading of the ordinance passed with approval from former Mayor Debra Lewis, former Mayor Pro Tem Paul Wyatt and Councilman John Tomlinson. Councilman Viczorek voted no on the ordinance. Councilman Muller abstained.

There will be a second reading, as required by law, of the smoking ordinance at the City Council meeting on Jan. 16.

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comments (6)

  • Dana Point Staff suggests that they have research the effects of second hand smoke however their research is either based or incomplete since the majority of studies conducted on the topic (including he largest studies) have shown otherwise. Indeed a number of studies involving so-called ‘heart attack miracles’ are either fraudulent or invalid due to severe bias. The smoking ban should be rejected at second reading.

    There is essentially no risk to others from second hand smoke.

    Boffetta, et al: Multicenter Case-Control Study of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer in Europe, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 90, No. 19, October 7, 1998: “public indoor settings did not represent an important source of ETS exposure.” (This case-control study used data from the IARC. The period of enrollment of case and control subjects was from 1988 to 1994–16 years; IARC=International Agency for Research on Cancer.}
    In addition, this large study looked at 38 years worth of data:

    [‘
    ]Enstrom, JE and Kabat, GC. Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98 BMJ 2003; 326:1057.This study found “No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease.” (This prospective study used American Cancer Society dataset.)

  • A 2005 study by professor Repace in Maryland found that outdoor tobacco smoke did not approach background levels for fine particles and carcinogens until about 23 feet from the cigarette source. Maybe MD has lower background levels of pollution than CA, which is why there is only a 20 foot outdoor cigarette smoking restriction in front of CA public building entryways.

    I’d like to see one of the other council members propose a replacement ordinance that is less restrictive, but still protects the public in outdoor congregation areas like outdoor restaurants, bus stops, farmer’s markets, etc.

    • Repace’s findings are questionable at best. In one court case he claimed a rate of particulates in a smoking situation yet when he tested the non-smoking court room he found the same level of particulates That case was dismissed.

  • As we near the end of 2017 I am amazed that there are still elected officials that appear to be stuck in the 20th Century looking for clarity on why exposing the non-smoking public and animals to secondhand smoke is a concern whether indoors or surrounding others outdoors.

    Smoking is a health problem. Smoking is safety problem. Smoking is a fire risk problem. Cigarette butts are a litter problem. Cigarette butts are an environmental problem. Do I need to continue?

  • The enforcement issue is significant. We are a small town with limited resources. The police should not be cruising looking for smokers or responding to calls about smoking. It’s not a stretch to imagine people asking the officers to collect butts as evidence. I hate smoking, I hate the sight of the butts, or any trash, hugely. More than the fact I can’t believe people still smoke, I can’t believe people litter at all. We live in a beautiful area, and the idea of tossing cups, wrappers and cigarette buts on the ground without a thought stuns me. When I see a younger person smoking, I swear my heart drops. At some point, people need to be responsible and laws don’t always fix things, or we would have been problem free in this world centuries ago. I imagine there will have to be warning signs posted and those are pretty ugly in their own right.

  • A limited outdoor ban on smoking in public congregation areas should be more than sufficient. Compared to all the other air pollution sources (internal combustion engines, rubber dust, forest fires, airplane exhaust, wood burning fireplaces, etc), outdoor cigarette smoke is relatively insignificant.

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