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You (Don’t) Light Up My Life


By Debra Lewis

On January 11, 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry stood in a roomful of reporters and for the first time declared that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer and probably heart disease. He later recalled the report “hit the country like a bombshell. It was front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad.”

The report profoundly changed our beliefs and lifestyle. In 1958, only 44 percent of people believed smoking caused cancer. By 1968, a whopping 78 percent held that same belief. In 1964, 42 percent of adult Americans smoked. Fifty years later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Washington D.C. put that number at 17.8 percent.

In California, just 11.6 percent of Californians smoke. Only Utah’s smoking prevalence is lower.

To further protect health and work toward making the next generation tobacco free, Dana Point is now smoke free. Seventy five percent of residents support the ban. All resorts are already smoke-free. Most Dana Point restaurants banned smoking on patios. Even the French went smoke free in restaurants.

What is a “public place?”

Anywhere the public can go without trespassing. It includes public buildings, restaurants, bars, entryways, elevators, public meeting rooms, public restrooms, streets, alleys, rights-of-way, sidewalks, plazas, public transportation and bus shelters, parking lots, parks, playgrounds, walking paths, hiking trails, bike paths and places holding public events.

“Does smoking including vaping?”

Yes, and marijuana smoke.


“Where is smoking permitted?”

Unless prohibited by state or federal law, smoking is allowed in two places, a car or a private residence, unless being used as a child care or health care facility subject to state licensing requirements. California prohibits smoking in an automobile when someone 17 or under is present. Landlords may prohibit smoking in the dwelling units themselves and all common areas such as lobbies or courtyards, and exterior areas.

“What about hazardous fire areas?”

Smoking and open fires are prohibited in any hazardous fire area as identified by the fire chief.

“Is smoking prohibited on the beaches?”

The state or county owns our beaches. We can prohibit smoking, but only with their written consent.

“What about smoke from my neighbor?”

Unless a lease prohibits smoking, your neighbor’s secondhand smoke drifting into your home does not violate the ordinance. It may, however, constitute a private nuisance or trespass under California law.

“How is the ban enforced?

Signs will be posted. Education is the key. When smoking was banned in restaurants and bars, it took time for people to know the rules. This will be no different. Any aggrieved person may enforce it, but don’t confront someone unless you feel safe doing so. Employers, owners, operators, managers and employees must tell the person of the violation. The City Manager can designate City employees to enforce it. Fines are imposed. Up to $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation within a year and $500 for a third violation within a year. Smoking in a hazardous fire area is a misdemeanor.

Debra Lewis was elected to City Council in 2016 and served as the city’s mayor in for 2017. You can contact her at

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