Culver City is preparing amendments to its anti-smoking law that would require most employers to adopt policies favoring nonsmoking employees and all restaurants to provide separate seating for customers who do not smoke.
The Culver City council Monday unanimously ordered City Atty. Joseph W. Pannone to draft a new anti-smoking ordinance, expanding a 1975 law, one of the first such laws passed in Los Angeles County.
The action came a week after the Beverly Hills City Council decided to prohibit smoking in its restaurants.
Smoking Policy Mandated
Under the amended ordinance, employers with more than three employees would have to allow those workers to declare their immediate work areas as nonsmoking sections. Employees could request that "No Smoking" signs be posted in those areas.
Disputes arising in such cases will favor "the health concerns of the non-smoker," according to the new law.
The city Human Services and Park Commission recommended expanding the city's current law, which prohibits smoking in passenger elevators, buses, food markets, libraries, museums, theaters, waiting rooms of public facilities and at public meetings.
The proposed new law would exempt cocktail lounges, private residences not providing day care services, hotel and motel rooms, retail tobacco stores, restaurant, hotel conference rooms and other rooms used for private functions and private offices "occupied exclusively by smokers."
Employers with three or fewer workers and those claiming hardship under the law may apply to the city Human Service and Parks Commission for an exemption.
Fine of $100
Fines for violating the law would be $100 for the first offense, $200 for a second violation within one year and $500 for each additional violation within a year.
By a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Paul A. Netzel and Councilman Paul A. Jacobs opposed, the council took out a section of the law that required employers to set aside at least 30% of an employee cafeteria or lunchroom for non-smokers.
Netzel said that he favored requiring employers to set aside up to 50% of employee cafeterias as non-smoking "to provide equal emphasis for non-smokers'
Under the proposed ordinance, employers would poll workers each year to determine the size of smoking and non-smoking sections of employee dining rooms.
Restaurant owners will be required to provide seating for nonsmokers only "as shall satisfy public requests."
Human Services and Park Commission member Andrew Weissman, a Culver City attorney who helped draft the proposed ordinance, said that the commission decided against setting non-smoking requirements for restaurants in favor of allowing owners to decide for themselves how many of their customers want to be seated in non-smoking sections.
Brundo said that while he favored requiring employers to provide space for non-smokers in employee lunchrooms, he opposed the idea of requiring restaurants to provide a set number of tables for non-smoking patrons.
"I believe a business is a bit different" from an employee cafeteria, he said. "I would hate to see a small restaurant with four booths or five booths . . . to have to devote half of that seating to nonsmokers, if in fact the majority of people attending that restaurant were smokers. I think it's unfair."
Representatives of the American Lung Assn. and Americans for Nonsmokers Rights spoke in favor of the new law.
Walt Bilofsky, a board member of the California chapter of American for Nonsmokers Rights, said that the law "is not the strongest I have ever seen but it is comprehensive. It covers almost all of the public places, places of employment that such ordinances generally address and I think it affords reasonable protection to nonsmokers in the workplace and public places."