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Community Digest

Long Beach : Petitioners for Smoking Ordinance Investigated

August 26, 1993

The city manager's office has launched an investigation of petition gatherers who are attempting to force the city's new no-smoking ordinance to a citywide vote. City Manager James C. Hankla confirmed the investigation this week, but refused further comment.

Councilman Evan Anderson Braude, who sponsored the no-smoking ordinance, said he requested the investigation after receiving reports that some of the people canvassing for signatures may have been non-residents who hastily registered to vote, giving hotels as home addresses. Any signatures collected by people who are not residents and not registered to vote could be invalidated, Braude said.

Braude said the canvassers were hired by American Petition Consultants of Sacramento. Officials there could not be reached for comment.

Braude and the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Long Beach have also claimed that the petitioners are spreading misinformation. One young canvasser told Braude--without realizing who the councilman was--that if the ordinance stands, smoking on city streets would be illegal, Braude said.

The ordinance, passed 8-0 by the City Council last month and scheduled to go into effect Saturday, bans smoking in restaurants, cafeterias, bowling alleys, bingo parlors, hair salons, hotel lobbies and other public places. In addition, two-thirds of the seating in outdoor eating areas and bars would be reserved for nonsmokers.

The petitioners must collect 18,149 valid signatures by Friday to force the measure to a vote. If they are successful, the ordinance will be put on hold until after the April 12, 1994, city election.

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