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County Supervisors Move to Enact Tough Smoking Curbs


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors--going on record against a tobacco industry-sponsored proposition on the November ballot that would repeal local anti-smoking ordinances--Tuesday underscored its opposition by laying the groundwork for passage of the toughest county restrictions ever on tobacco use.

Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal that would restrict smoking in all public places, workplaces and enclosed restaurants and that would greatly restrict youth access to tobacco products.

The proposed restaurant smoking ban is similar to a controversial law implemented last year by the city of Los Angeles. The city ordinance applies to all enclosed restaurants, but does not govern restaurant bars or outdoor patios.

The proposed county ban would also exempt bar and patio areas but would give restaurant operators and other business owners the option of declaring their establishments smoke-free or of providing a separately enclosed area for smokers.

The county's Public Health Commission, which proposed the restrictions, had recommended an outright smoking ban, but Supervisor Gloria Molina said the county and city laws should be consistent.

"I also believe that business owners should be given an option," Molina said. "If they can't provide a space that does not affect nonsmokers, then they should not allow smoking."

The county will also consider regulations aimed at restricting sales of tobacco to minors. The proposed laws would regulate vending machine sales, ban the free distribution of tobacco products and promotional items to minors, and restrict advertising around schools, churches, and boys and girls clubs.

A county Department of Health Services report noted that a state law banning sales of cigarettes to minors is rarely enforced but that most county residents, including smokers, support such restrictions.

Supervisors voiced concern that a state ballot measure may thwart local attempts to address such concerns. Proposition 188 would repeal local smoking bans and prevent cities and counties from regulating tobacco use.

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