DEL MAR — Nearly a dozen people thanked the 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors at the Aug. 11 meeting for imposing smoking restrictions at this year’s San Diego County Fair, saying it made for a much more pleasant experience.
Then they took it one step further and urged the board to make the venue entirely smoke-free for next year’s event.
“Generally speaking, things looked a lot better,” Carmel Valley resident Tom Hetherington said. But he described signage that was used to indicate smoking was limited to restricted areas as “pathetic.” He said the placards were too small and there weren’t enough of them.
Hetherington, who last summer urged the board to impose restrictions to help deal with marijuana use at the fair, also said he saw many fair employees smoking about 20 feet from the designated areas. “Who’s supposed to confront them?” he asked.
Hetherington said a lot of the uncertainty could be avoided with better signs and announcements at the concerts.
Judi Strang, executive director for San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth, asked for more stringent action, saying a complete ban “would eliminate any ambivalence and random marijuana smoking.” She said the approximately 85 percent of Californians who don’t smoke “don’t need to be held hostage” by the minority who do.
“We think the time has come,” Strang said. “We hope you’ll join our list of smoke-free stars.”
Gena Knutson of the San Diego Tobacco Control Coalition said based on her observations, ride operators were the biggest offenders. She said most did not go to the designated smoking areas.
Libba Jackson-D’Ambrosi said a smoke-free policy would “really create a healthy environment.” She said designated smoking areas are bad because they intimate smoking is acceptable as an adult behavior.
“The message is, you can go there when you’re older,” she said. “It’s kind of mystifying that we don’t do more when we see the harm of secondhand smoke. Please don’t help people kill themselves or promote smoking to the younger generation.”
Linda Zweig, media representative for the fairgrounds, said the board takes all public input seriously “to make the fair better and more family friendly.” Like all comments, she said the board would take the suggestions into consideration.