A Newport Beach environmental committee will research smoking in public places — including why Newport Beach scored an F grade from the American Lung Association — before asking the City Council to examine the issue in a Study Session.
At the city’s Environmental Quality Affairs Committee held Monday evening, City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner said the Council was poised to study tightening smoking bans in public places, but some local restaurateurs asked the city’s Economic Development Committee to intervene.
“‘Please, please, don’t do anything,’” Gardner said they’d said. “They are having such a hard time with the economy,” and a ban could drive smokers to other cities to dine. She said that council members who are neutral on smoking issues likely would be swayed by an economic argument, and that the EQAC group might want to conduct more research and wait for awhile before going to the City Council.
After some discussion, committee member Barbara Thibault volunteered to write a report and conduct research, including contacting a source at the American Lung Association who has information on the dangers of secondhand smoke in public places. That source told Gardner about the F grade, said Gardner, who added that in all of Orange County, only four cities didn’t fail — and three of those cities earned D’s.
Currently, Newport Beach ordinances on smoking in public places mirror the state’s laws, including a ban on smoking at beaches. The EQAC committee was considering making the city’s policies more strict, by banning smoking next to exits of places like restaurants that are used by the public, or common areas of public buildings.
Gardner told the group that the American Lung Association gave Newport Beach an F grade last year; read that report here.
The committee also heard an update on a proposed leaf blower ban, which the City Council discussed on Feb. 9. The committee had researched the subject and submitted a report to the council. Read our story about that Study Session here.