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City May Widen Ban on Smoking

Government: Mission Viejo's council will consider fining those who light up in a city-owned building, vehicle or park.


The Mission Viejo City Council today will consider a wide-ranging anti-smoking ordinance that would prohibit people from lighting up in any city-owned building, vehicle or public park.

If approved, the ordinance would place Mission Viejo on the cutting edge of anti-smoking regulations.

Such regulations have moved from the workplace to bars and restaurants, and are now increasingly being applied to outdoor public areas.

"It's the next wave of smoke-free areas that local governments will be looking at," said Paul Knepprath, vice president for government relations for the American Lung Assn. of California.

Last year, the state Legislature passed a law banning smoking on playgrounds.

A bill that would expand that by outlawing smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds is currently before Gov. Gray Davis, Knepprath said.

Several city councils--including those in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and San Fernando--have also expanded smoke-free areas in parks, restrictions that go beyond the state's limits.

"People are more and more looking at the effects of outdoor tobacco smoke exposure," Knepprath said.

It's an emerging field of study by scientists as well, and "California is at ground zero for this kind of research," he added.

Mission Viejo's ordinance--which would also affect all buildings leased by the city, including the local YMCA--carries a $100 fine.

"I think secondhand smoke is destructive; studies have shown this," Mayor Susan Withrow said.

"It's our responsibility as a city to promote a healthy environment," the mayor said. "It's important for us to be leaders

The city's planning and transportation committee approved the new regulations last month.

However, smoking on public streets or right of ways would not be affected by the ordinance.

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