By Daniel Ritz

On Jan. 16, the Dana Point City Council hosted a second reading of a new No Smoking in Public Places Ordinance. With the passage of the ordinance, Dana Point Public Works department recommended a similar approach to Laguna Beach to notify the public of the new ban. Laguna Beach used electronic changeable message boards at city entrances. With substantially more entrance points to Dana Point (approx. 12), the signs would need to be moved around in order to relay the message as intended. There is no cost incurred to the city as Dana Point owns two of these signs.

The ordinance, which in its purpose names smoking a “public nuisance,” recognizes the right of the residents of the city to be free from unwelcome secondhand smoke.

The ordinance defines a “public place” as any indoor or outdoor public space publicly or privately owned, including but not limited to any public buildings, alleys, sidewalks bus shelters and more.

In addition to all places where smoking is prohibited under state and federal law, in which case those laws apply, no person shall smoke in, and smoking areas shall not be established or designated in places of employment and public places. Smoking is permitted in private residential properties, other than those used as a child-care or health care facility subject to state licensing requirements or in a moving or stationary vehicle including vehicles on a public street or right-of-way or parked in a public place.

The provisions of this ordinance may be enforced by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, any peace officer or fire code enforcement officer, or other employees designated by the City Manager.

“There will be a period of education on this ordinance,” said Sergeant Rich Himmel of Dana Point Police Services. He explained that his priority is encouraging voluntary compliance, not necessarily ramping up citations.

“In the last five years, we have seen a 28 percent increase in calls for service. We’re not setting up a task-force for cigarette use. It’s just another tool in the tool-belt.”

If enforced, any person who is found to violate any provision of the new ordinance could face a fine not to exceed $100 dollars for the first violation, $200 dollars for the second violation within one year, and a $500 dollar fine for a third violation within one year.

This ordinance will begin 30 days after its passage on Thursday, Feb. 15. The full ordinance can be read at www.danapoint.org

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