San Ramon's City Council adopted stringent secondhand smoking protections on Feb. 26 in an effort to protect residents from exposure outdoors. Two other area cities are discussing similar measures in a move that has the county Tobacco Prevention Coalition thrilled.
The same night San Ramon adopted the new policy, Concord's City Council voted to discuss citywide secondhand protections in their Housing and Economic Development Committee after requests made by residents at public comment. A week earlier, Walnut Creek committed to studying policy options and drafting a similar measure.
"Members of the Coalition and community residents have been meeting with policymakers in Concord and Walnut Creek for years on this issue. We are so happy that things are moving forward," said Emily Justice, co-chair of the Tobacco Prevention Coalition.
San Ramon is the sixth Contra Costa community to adopt comprehensive secondhand smoke protections; the new rules updated a 1999 ordinance that the city and members of the Teen Council determined inadequately protected people against the dangers of secondhand smoke. The ordinance expands coverage to include second hand smoke from outdoor sources, prohibits smoking in city parks and city-sponsored events.
"We're trying to protect citizens of San Ramon and address a great problem that is affecting this city," said Akanksha Dadlani, chair of the Teen Council, said on Feb. 12. "We've flipped the ordinance so it states that San Ramon is a smoke free city with exceptions, instead of you can smoke in the city aside from where prohibited."
The update will go into effect on March 28 or 30 days after adoption, Interim City Attorney Bob Saxe said. A synopsis of the ordinance will be made available at all city buildings, on the city website and be included in its newsletter.
Public Services Director Karen McNamara said she would meet with maintenance staff and the Teen Council in the coming weeks to look at signage. The group will determine the material and location of the no-smoking signs, as well as whether new ones are needed or if the ordinance could be added to an existing sign.
"The Teen Council group has actively embraced the idea of helping us close the loop on the whole project. We will charge them with looking at each park and where it makes logical sense," McNamara said. "We'll work together on a really good plan of implementation and at that point I think we'll have a better handle on the cost."
Almost 60 communities in California have comprehensive secondhand smoke protections policies that prohibit smoking in outdoor areas such as doorways of buildings open to the public, outdoor dining areas, public events, parks and recreation areas. Communities may also prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces such as smokeshops and owner owned businesses.
In 2010, Contra Costa County supervisors approved a ban on smoking in certain areas of multi-unit housing such as common indoor and outdoor areas like laundry rooms and swimming pools, as well as inside individual units.