DEL MAR — After devoting time at three meetings to discuss potential new laws for tobacco use in Del Mar, City Council introduced an updated ordinance Oct. 5 that severely limits smoking in the downtown area.
Smoking is already banned in public areas, places of employment, city vehicles and day care facilities, as well as at or near parks and beaches. When the amended ordinance takes effect in about a month it will also be prohibited in outside dining areas and within a reasonable distance from them, on city sidewalks and street areas adjacent to them, and at publicly owned facilities such as City Hall and the library.
Mobile sales of tobacco products and tobacco vending machines will also be unlawful. Council members had discussed a provision that would ban the distribution of coupons and free samples.
“After speaking with representatives of the city attorney’s office, we have not included that in this ordinance because it was felt that the state prohibitions on such activities were already strong enough,” Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum said.
State laws prohibit tobacco companies from giving away free tobacco products on public grounds where minors are allowed, but do allow distribution in “adult environments.”
The three people who addressed council during the Oct. 5 meeting all spoke in support of the new laws. Kathleen Sullivan, a policy manager with the American Lung Association, reported new results from two large community-based studies recently published in The Wall Street Journal.
According to the studies, communities with smoking bans in public places have fewer heart attacks, and youth who live in communities with smoking restrictions are 40 percent less likely to become smokers.
The city received written opposition to the new laws from Jim Donovan and David Klistoff. Both disputed some of the scientific findings regarding the negative health impacts of smoking and the effects of second-hand smoke on nonsmokers. According to Donovan, the new laws are an infringement on his rights. He included a concurring Internet report from William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.
“One doesn’t have the right to kill your neighbors with second-hand smoke,” Councilman Don Mosier said in response. “There’s a lot of scientific denial in some of these letters, including a column from an M.D. that was downloaded from some Web site.
“One of the problems with the Web is you can … find any quack opinion you want and somebody did,” Mosier said. “But the science is hard and old that second-hand smoke kills. So if you want to smoke in your private residence and light up a cigar, that’s fine. But if you want to smoke next to me, that impacts my rights and the rights of all your neighbors,” he said.
“I think the arguments that have been presented here against smoking ordinances are specious and, again, ignore well-established scientific facts.”
His colleagues agreed. “There are many areas that I would like to have government not intrude on because in a lot of cases they make mistakes,” Councilman Richard Earnest said. “And in a lot of cases I’d like the market to decide what should happen and what shouldn’t. This isn’t one of them.
“We do have a duty, to the best of our ability, to protect public safety. To me, that trumps the free market and that trumps whatever government intrusion might be assumed by setting ordinances and laws in place,” Earnest said. “The science is irrefutable about the effects of first- and second-hand and third-hand smoking.”
In defining smoking and tobacco products, the new laws include but are not limited to pipes, cigars, cigarettes “or any other weed or plant.”