Outdoor Smoking Ban Extended to Patios, Waiting Lines, Condo Commons

And Kelsey Lynn Lester-Perry

Patio smoking will be banned.

This summer, smokers enjoying a cup of coffee or a cocktail at a restaurant outdoor patio will not legally be able to light up.

The San Jose City Council voted unanimously to extend the ban on outdoor smoking to include outdoor patios, standing in line at ATMs or movie theaters and in common outdoor areas of apartment and condo complexes.

The vote on Tuesday, April 10, was followed by unanimous approval of another measure to promote the health of San Joseans – adding eight miles of bike lanes to streets in or near Downtown San Jose.

“It’s a great day for public health in San Jose,” District 2 San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra said at the meeting.

The ordinance to curb the impact of second-hand smoke on the health of non-smokers will take effect at the end of May, and the city is asking restaurant and business owners and apartment managers to enforce the new rules.

The city is receiving grant money from Centers for Disease Control through Santa Clara County to pay for costs of preparing the ordinance. The county and Breathe California of the Bay Area will help educate the public about the new rules. The California Apartments Association also supported the ordinance.

“Fifty-five percent of rental property owners already have voluntarily put this policy in place,” said Joshua Howard, executive director of the CAA, referring to survey the organization conducted of its members.

City Attorney Rick Doyle said in an interview that enforcement could get tricky.

“With the city staff being cut, we are going to have to leave it to the complex managers to enforce code,” he said. “Along with really just focusing on education, posting signage and getting the word out through Breathe California.”

Margot Sidener, president and CEO of Breathe California of the Bay Area, pledged to help the city with implementation through its second hand smoke helpline, public education services and sign distribution. The County of Santa Clara’s Department of Environmental Health also will help with outreach and training.

“Breathing should not be a hazard of everyday life,” Sidener told the council. “Not when you’re sitting or waiting in a service line, not when you’re stopping for a bite to eat and definitely not when you’re at home in you housing complex and decide you want to use the pool or walk through the breezeway or just keep your windows open.”

No speakers testified against the ordinance at the meeting. But a patio diner at an outside a Downtown restaurant, said the city “should stay out of it.”

“In a broader sense, individual rights are being taken away,” said San Jose resident Ruben Gonzalez. “Patio environments are inviting to smokers and non-smokers alike. So why should the non-smokers be the only ones enjoying this environment? Where do smokers go?”

Opposition to the ordinance also has come from the California Association of Retail Tobacconists, Inc.

Council members, however, were focusing on the dangers of secondhand smoke and the testimony of some of those affected by it.

“This will save lives,” said District 8 Councilwoman Rose Herrera. “Ultimately that’s the bottom line. “