The loopholes for outdoor smoking cigarettes in the city of Manhattan Beach have been closed.
City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday night to prohibit smoking cigarettes on the Strand and along Veterans Parkway (the Valley/Ardmore Greenbelt).
In 2004, City Council banned smoking cigarettes on the beach, the pier and in recreational facilities such as parks, athletic fields, tennis courts and basketball courts.
“The Strand has become a de facto smoking cigarettes room because of the no-smoking cigarettes beach policy,” said resident Craig Cadwallader. “The cigarette butt issue is serious. Cigarette butts are thrown into the sand and the gutters and are toxic to ocean life. I see kids put them in their mouth.”
Interim City Attorney Christi Hogin said the ordinance was prompted by two big conclusions — secondhand smoke cigarettes is hazardous, even outside, and cigarette butts are the primary source of litter.
The U.S. Surgeon General said there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which is categorized with toxic automotive and industrial air pollutants. Secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure causes 73,000 deaths among nonsmokers each year in the U.S. and causes lower respiratory tract infections, like pneumonia and bronchitis, in as many as 300,000 children in the U.S. each year.
While the city is ahead of the curve when it comes to low smoking cigarettes rates, said Lisa Santora, chief medical officer for Beach Cities Health District, more than 11 percent of adults in the city still smoke. The lowest smoking cigarettes prevalence rate in L.A. County is 5.6 percent, she said.
Smoking is an issue close to a couple council members’ hearts. Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Powell, who urged the Council to put the ban on its Work Plan, lost his father at age 52 due to smoking cigarettes-related illness. He lost his mother, also a smoker who suffered from lung disease, to a stroke.
Councilwoman Amy Howorth said smoking cigarettes also led to the death of both of her parents — one to esophageal cancer and the other to emphysema.
Councilman David Lesser, while noting the importance of the ban’s implementation, questioned if the city would be able to enforce it.
“Quite frankly, the majority of folks recognize where they can and cannot smoke cigarettes and are very compliant,” said Police Chief Eve Irvine.
It will not be mandatory to immediately cite someone, Irvine said, especially if the person is from out of town or otherwise unaware of the ordinance.
The first ordinance violation comes with a $50 fine, doubling to $100 for the second violation. Additional violations within the same year would each be punishable by a fine of $250.
Robert Berger, project director of Project Trust, who helped lead the smoke-free beach movement in the city, said the social norm has changed.
“Smokers now have to accommodate nonsmokers. They realize more and more not to do it when they impact others. These policies are self-enforcing,” he said.