DEL MAR — Prompted by continuous requests to prohibit smoking in the city’s new outdoor cafes, Del Mar council members directed staff at the July 27 meeting to create a code amendment that would significantly limit tobacco use throughout the downtown area.
The existing ordinance, adopted in 1993, prohibits smoking in public areas, places of employment, city vehicles and day care facilities.
Smoking is also not allowed at or near parks and beaches. Although the code has been amended several times, portions are now outdated as state laws have become more restrictive.
Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum presented council with more than a dozen issues to consider as staff prepares to update the ordinance. There was unanimous consent that the new law should ban smoking on city sidewalks and adjacent streets, in all indoor and outdoor portions of restaurants and bars as required by state law, on city-owned property and at or near bus shelters.
Councilman Mark Filanc noted that many taxi drivers smoke outside their cars while waiting for fares, so the modified code will include a provision requiring vehicles to be smoke-free as a condition for licensing cabs to operate in
the city. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, vending machines that sell tobacco products don’t currently exist in the city, but they will be prohibited under the amended code.
Council members stopped short of banning smoking in outdoor areas of multiunit residential buildings. They also asked for more information before adding a provision that would require retailers who sell tobacco products to be licensed by the city. Neighboring Solana Beach recently amended its smoking laws to include such a requirement.
Council members were sympathetic to businesses that may depend on smokers. But Barbara Gordon from the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth presented results from an informal survey indicating smoke-free eating areas could actually attract rather than deter customers. Of 150 people recently surveyed in Del Mar, 148 said they would prefer eating outside when smoking is not allowed.
“If you’re running a business and you depend upon smokers … I think you have a problem to solve,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “I don’t think the city has to solve that problem.”
Resident Rich Ehrenfeld agreed. “Food and smoking have nothing to do with each other,” he said. “In fact, they seem to contradict each other. So I hope that you guys are willing to make a bold, big statement at this point.”
Mosier said he supports strict regulations primarily because of the dangers now associated with second-hand smoke.
“You shouldn’t be exposed to health hazards while walking down the streets of Del Mar,” he said.
Before final adoption, the amended ordinance will be presented at a future council meeting for a full public hearing and additional input.