City to consider banning smoking on restaurant patios

Long Beach, like many cities, has banned smoking in most public areas, and restaurant patios could soon be next.

The City Council in its regular meeting on Tuesday voted unanimously to ask the city attorney to draft an ordinance banning smoking in outdoor seating areas for public and private eating establishments. Smokers would also be required to stay within a certain distance from the restaurants.

Under current municipal code, restaurants can still have a small, designated smoking section in its outdoor seating as long as two-thirds of the area is designated as “non smoking.”

City officials said the effort fixes “glaring loophole” that still allows people to be exposed to second-hand smoke from restaurant patios.

Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price in Tuesday’s meeting said the city did extensive outreach to the business community and received overwhelming support.

Mayor Robert Garcia said the ordinance was a good idea but asked the city attorney to consider adding language that would differentiate between restaurants and bars that serve snacks.

The city has already prohibited smoking in areas including beaches, bike paths, recreational areas, public restrooms, farmers markets and in all workplaces.

Establishments like cigar lounges and hookah bars would be exempt, as well as certain special events.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].