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Carlsbad prohibits smoking in unenclosed areas

CARLSBAD — City Council unanimously agreed to amend the Carlsbad Municipal Code that will prohibit outdoor diners from lighting up their cigarettes at restaurant patios and sidewalk cafes. 

Carlsbad has modeled this ordinance with its neighboring cities such as Solana Beach and Encinitas, which already enforce an outdoor restaurant smoking ban.

To date, there are roughly 85 municipalities in the state of California adopting outdoor dining smoke-free measures, and Carlsbad is now one of the newer municipalities on the list.

“The Vista Community Clinic representatives recently requested that the city consider adopting an ordinance to prohibit smoking in outdoor dining areas in Carlsbad,” said Michele Masterson, senior analyst with the city. “As a result of this request, staff is presenting this report to City Council for its consideration along with the proposed ordinance amendment to prohibit smoking in outdoor dining areas.”

It’s expected that City Council will adopt this new ordinance Oct. 2, and 30 days later, it will go into effect. In addition to posting signs alerting diners of the smoking ban, the ordinance also requires smokers to light up at a minimum of 20 feet away from outdoor restaurant patrons to avoid secondhand smoke.

Currently, Carlsbad bans smoking at beaches, lagoons and parks.

Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian, a proponent of the smoking ban, was on hand to share his opinions during the public comment portion. He told council members that he was there to act as a resource because Solana Beach adopted its ordinance in 2009 to ban smoking at outdoor restaurant patios.

“Nothing is worse than going to a restaurant and eating outside and have the smell of cigarettes ruining your meal,” Kellejian said.

The Solana Beach mayor went on to say that by implementing a smoke-free outdoor dining ordinance, both diners and workers would be protected from the dangerous health effects from breathing in secondhand smoke.

Kellejian continued, “You’re in charge, as an elected official, to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people that you serve in your community and those who visit your fine town.”

Councilman Mark Packard shared that about three years ago he was approached to champion this anti-smoking cause but was reluctant to do so.

“My concern was the overextending reach of government interfering in our lives,” he said. “I’ve struggled with this for a little while, but I did come to the conclusion that the ban on a policy like this far outweighs the risk of government intrusion — my only regret is that I did not champion this earlier.”

Councilman Keith Blackburn said by complete coincidence, before this municipal code amendment was brought forward to him, he and his wife were eating outside at a restaurant and somebody was smoking nearby.

“Our conversation was really around how we have taken for granted how nice it’s been since we got rid of smoking in our restaurants; and, when someone does smoke around us it is so obvious and it really does make a difference in the quality of our meal and our enjoyment,” Blackburn said.