Push to limit smoking rekindled

A San Francisco lawmaker is reigniting stalled legislation that would further limit where smokers can light up in The City, hoping amendments to the bill will convince businesses that it won’t be a drag.

The controversial legislation — first introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly last year and now being pushed by Supervisor Eric Mar — would forbid smoking in a slew of new settings, adding to existing bans in bars, restaurants, parks, transit stops and taxicabs.

The bill would expand no-smoking zones to include farmers markets and the outdoor seating areas of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. Smoking would also be prohibited while waiting in lines at ATMs, theaters, athletic events and concert venues.

Apartment buildings and other multiunit residences would also have new areas with no-smoking signs. Smoking would be prohibited in common areas of apartment buildings, including hallways, elevators, parking lots, lobbies, waiting areas, bathrooms, laundry facilities and recreation areas.

“Tenants must keep the front door of their private unit closed while smoking,” Mar said.

The legislation is the latest in a number of city initiatives to combat secondhand smoke, which kills 53,000 nonsmokers annually in the U.S., according to the San Francisco Tobacco Free Project.

When the bill was introduced last year, it didn’t have the political traction to gain approval. Several members of the Board of Supervisors were months away from ending their term in office and certain provisions in the bill were not well-received in the business community.

Concessions are now being made to help placate local businesses. A provision in the original bill that required a distance of 20 feet between smokers and the entrance to businesses was scrapped, as was another provision that required employees of businesses to enforce the smoking ban on their sidewalks.

Mar said he will continue to work on the bill with the business community.

The legislation is modeled after smoking restrictions adopted recently in other California cities, including Emeryville, Belmont, Santa Monica, Davis and Oakland.

“We’re actually way behind in San Francisco,” said Alyonik Hrushow, Public Health Department policy director for tobacco control. “We’re surrounded by counties that have gone much further.”

Putting out the fire

Policy accomplishments of the San Francisco Tobacco Free Project:

1993
Smoking prohibited in all workplaces, including restaurants

1996
Self-service displays of tobacco products prohibited
Cigarette vending machines prohibited

1998
Outdoor tobacco advertising limited
Policy prohibiting smoking in playground areas of city parks

1999
Tobacco prohibited in advertising on taxicabs

2003
Tobacco retailers required to obtain special permit as a way to identify all tobacco retailers in San Francisco

2005
Smoking banned in unenclosed recreation areas

2006
Smoking banned at public transit stops
Smoking banned at public golf courses

2008
Tobacco sales banned in pharmacies
Tobacco giveaways banned in places open to public, including bars and nightclubs
Smoking banned in taxis and cars for hire

Source: San Francisco Tobacco Free Project

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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