A Long Beach City Council committee has unveiled a tough no-smoking ordinance, just days after a similar law went into effect in Los Angeles.
The proposed ordinance would require employers to put smoking policies in writing and give the edge to nonsmokers in office disputes over wafting smoke in the workplace.
In addition, it would establish fines of up to $500 for people caught smoking in restricted areas.
Members of the council's Human Resources Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to have city legal officials draw up a formal draft of the ordinance. The three-member committee will hold a public hearing on the issue some time next month and then is expected to send the proposed regulations on to the full council.
More than 50 cities in the state have smoking ordinances, varying from those that prohibit smoking only in government offices to tougher statutes that regulate it in most public and private settings, according to the committee report.
Fifth in County
If the City Council approves a no-smoking ordinance, Long Beach would becoming the fifth city in the county to have such regulations, joining Glendale, Inglewood, Pasadena and Los Angeles.
As proposed, the ordinance would have the greatest effect on office workers, city officials maintain.
It would require that business owners compile and enforce a written policy on smoking within 90 days after the ordinance goes into effect.
At the minimum, the employer would have to prohibit smoking in conference rooms and other public places, provide no-smoking areas in lunchrooms and lounges, and give an employee the right to designate the area around the desk where he or she works as a no-smoking zone.
In any dispute arising because of smoking, the rights of the nonsmoker would be given precedence under the ordinance.
Could Ban Smoking
But an employer could take it even further. According to the proposed ordinance, an employer would be able to ban smoking throughout the office.
While the ordinance stresses that it is the responsibility of employers to provide smoke-free areas for nonsmokers, it does not require that a business owner pay for a modification to the office to improve conditions.
The ordinance also would prohibit or dramatically restrict smoking in public restrooms, theaters, the Long Beach Arena and other auditoriums, hospitals and public meeting rooms.
Although bars would not be affected by the smoking ban, restaurants that seat more than 50 people would be required to have no-smoking areas for 25% of their customers. If the restaurant did not provide no-smoking areas, it would have to prohibit smoking outright.
The ordinance would be enforced by the city Health Department, said City Manager John Dever.
Persons caught smoking in a restricted area would be penalized $50 for a first infraction. They would be fined $100 for a second infraction and $500 if they were caught a third time within a year of the first penalty.