SANTA CLARITA — A majority of the Santa Clarita City Council has expressed support for a law restricting smoking in restaurants and workplaces and instructed its staff to prepare a recommendation for such an ordinance.
Three members of the council cited concerns Tuesday over the impact of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers in expressing approval, in varying degrees, of a smoking ban.
"I am totally for the complete ban on smoking in restaurants," Councilman George Pederson said. "This is an issue that has reached its time."
Councilwoman Jill Klajic was equally enthusiastic for a ban on smoking in public places. Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy, while noting that her husband "would have lived a lot longer" if he had not been a smoker, lent her support as well, though more cautiously.
"We don't want to ramrod something down that is further going to hurt our businesses," she said.
The City Council will discuss a staff-recommended anti-smoking ordinance at its Sept. 29 study session.
At Tuesday night's meeting, speakers engaged in a duel over the merits of legislating smoking bans, similar to the one fought in other cities that have considered or adopted smoking bans.
Donna Pugh, co-chair of the Coalition for a Healthy Santa Clarita, described her anguish at working in an office in the Valencia Industrial Center where smoking is allowed.
"They just move us nonsmokers from desk to desk and think that if they're not blowing it in our faces that it's all right," said Pugh, who had complained to her supervisors about her eyes and nose burning from the smoke.
"We are very worried about excessive regulations and fear that this may be one of them," said Marlee Lauffer, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. She said restaurant members of her group were concerned both about driving businesses out of the city and enforcement.