OCEANSIDE — People can expect to see “no smoking” signs posted outside the library, City Hall and city offices in the near future. City Council voted unanimously to ban smoking at Civic Center Plaza on Nov. 30.
The problem was brought to City Council’s attention by citizens who complained about secondhand smoke and littered cigarette butts.
A major grievance was that many smokers light up right outside the library entrance. People voiced concern that children, who frequent the library, face regular exposure to secondhand smoke.
“Classes of kids are walking through there every day,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “Secondhand smoke is not good for my health or anyone else’s.”
Wood said city staff also voiced complaints about coworkers who smoke on office balconies and create an unwelcoming smoke-filled space.
To resolve the problem, designated city employee-smoking areas will be established away from office doors and windows.
Most people were on board with the no smoking amendment, but there was one public speaker who asked for sympathy for smokers and requested a public smoking area in the plaza.
City Council did not grant the request. Instead, council focused on keeping people safe from secondhand smoke.
“We’re protecting the freedom and liberty of that 88 percent who don’t smoke,” Councilman Jack Feller said.
Smoking is already banned at Oceanside parks and beaches. Many people said designating Civic Center Plaza as a nonsmoking area completes the city vision.
“Smoking is not a right,” Gena Knutson, program manager of tobacco control and prevention at Vista Community Clinic, said. “Secondhand smoke has toxic contaminates.”
Smoking is a well-documented health risk. Cigarette smoke contains 69 different chemicals that cause cancer.
Smoking raises blood pressure, increases the carbon monoxide level in blood, and reduces the senses of smell and taste.
“Each year 450,000 Americans die of cancer,” Knutson said.