Smoking ban smolders, Belmont weighs specifics

Far from the complete snuffing of smoking in Belmont, city leaders now say they hope the new smoking ordinance will simply protect nonsmokers and provide smokers a place to light up without harming people around them.

The City Council is set to offer opinions tonight on three of the main points of the proposed ordinance: smoking on public streets and sidewalks at events; smoking in multi-unit housing complexes; and the definition of a “reasonable distance” for smokers.

“I don’t think this will be a terribly strict ordinance, but it will help the health of the people who can’t get away from it, people who lived in confined quarters and can’t move,” Mayor Coralin Feierbach said.

The ordinance could have a far-reaching impact on businesses if distance requirements are set close enough to buildings to prevent restaurant patrons and customers from smoking comfortably at Belmont locations. The ordinance will likely give residents grounds to file nuisance complaints against smokers.

“The big concern is if people can’t smoke outside of restaurants,” said Chamber of Commerce President Ron Denman.

Feierbach said that she would like to confine smoking to designated smoking areas at events such as the Belmont Farmers Market, just as she would like to see in communal living complexes.

City Attorney Marc Zafferano is recommending the city discuss a 20 to 25 foot distance buffer between public buildings and smokers, citing a recent Stanford University study.

The council will also need to decide on a time line for apartment complexes to begin enforcing new smoking restrictions.

The City Council meeets at 7:30 p.m. tonight in City Council Chambers, One Twin Pines Lane.

jgoldman@examiner.com


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