Another City in San Diego County Bans Smoking in Public Spaces

In April, the city of La Mesa, located in San Diego County, will join the growing number of California cities that ban smoking in public places, such as parks, streets, and sidewalks. Smoking bans in public spaces protect all of us from harmful second and thirdhand smoke exposure.  

January 24, 2020

By: Jeff Clemetson

At its Jan. 14 meeting, La Mesa City Council voted to adopt an ordinance that bans smoking in public spaces.

The Change in the municipal code prohibits smoking on public streets, sidewalks, and “unenclosed places of employment.” The smoking ban has just a few exceptions such as retail tobacco shops and private smoker’s lounges.

Michelle Huey was the lone speaker opposed to the new ordinance. She said the new rule “makes a bold statement that smokers are not wanted in La Mesa.” She added that the ban will adversely affect workers who smoke and will no longer be able to smoke on breaks as well as smokers who live in multiunit apartments because they can no longer walk outside to smoke.

Several residents spoke in favor of the smoking ban, citing health studies and personal experiences with breathing in other people’s second-hand smoke.

“There is no right to subject the rest of us to harmful substances,” said Janet Castanos.

Monica Zech, said the new ordinance will “make [La Mesa] a more family-friendly city.”

Linda Barber, La Mesa resident and government relations director for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said her organization is “thrilled” that this city is increasing smoke-free areas. “People have a right to breathe clean air, but they don’t have a right to smoke — it’s not a constitutional right,” she said and encouraged the city to “expand these protections and not stop here.”

Lorenzo Higley, a CASA representative that supported the smoking ban, said his group worked with the local business community to address concerns, and that CASA will host a La Mesa Conversations meeting to educate public about what is in the ordinance.

Council member Kristine Alessio, who co-sponsored the ordinance along with Council member Dr. Akilah Weber, shared that she is a former smoker of 26 years. “I hope this encourages people to quit smoking because it really made a giant change in my health,” she said.

“We are not trying to tell someone who is an adult that they can or cannot smoke, but what we are trying to do is protect those who do not want to deal with the harmful effects of second hand smoke,” Weber said and likened the new rules to drunk driving laws where adults can drink but not put others at risk by driving intoxicated.

After the discussion, the Council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance. The rules are set to go into effect sometime in early April.

Note: Content was edited for style and length

Image by: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

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