City Sets New Smoking Rules; Campus Unaffected

Claudia Anaya

The Glendale Smoke-Free Ordinance went into effect on Nov. 6 but will not affect the current state code prohibiting smokers from being 20-feet from building entrances, windows and open vents.

Steven P. Wagg, chief of police, says that since GCC is a special district that devises its own enforcements, the city’s ban will not apply to the college but the “county has asked for health reasons that there’s no smoking within 20 feet of a door or an operable window,” and this will apply.

“We will enforce that; there is a law in the book that has fines that we can issue tickets for. If officers see people smoking next to a door, next to a window they tell them not to,” said Wagg.

“If someone is smoking in a place that they shouldn’t be, we first have to be notified and we’ll go out there and talk to them; and if we see it when we are on foot patrol, we’ll go out and talk to them and tell them to stop,” said Wagg.

“Most of the time once people know about the rules they are more likely to follow them,” said Wagg.

The citation for violating the 20-foot rule on campus is $35 and qualifies as an infraction.

The new city ordinance states that it serves to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare by prohibiting smoking in public places and in the common areas of multi-family rental housing under circumstances where one or more persons will be exposed to smoke.

When a person is violating the ordinance, they could be warned, told to stop smoking, leave the premises, move to a smoking permitted area; and a person who continues to smoke after the verbal warning will result in an infraction but after three violations within the same year it will be considered a misdemeanor.

The first infraction will receive a $100 citation, followed by a $200 citation after a second violation within the same year and $500 for every violation after that.

“I think [the ban] is good because [smoking] affects everyone, and for me, my eyes start watering and I get sick because of it and when people come into class it smells bad,” said Beatriz Napoles, 18, psychology major. At bus stops, there are little kids that it can affect.”

The City Council came up with findings that included “extensive medical research confirms that tobacco smoke is harmful to smokers and non-smokers alike, triggering eye, nose, throat, and sinus irritation; hastening lung disease, including emphysema; and causing heart disease and lung cancer” as is stated in Section 2 of Section 8.52.020 of the Glendale Municipal Code.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that secondhand smoke causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among adult non-smokers in the United States.

Additionally, the California Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke causes coronary heart disease in non-smokers.

The new Glendale ordinance will prohibit smoking in open public places including:
The Americana, libraries, city hall, bus stops, ticket lines, cab stands, valet parking drop-off/pick up area, and other open public places.

Carolina Chavez, 19, medicine major, thinks it’s bad for people’s health to smoke and “the ban is a good thing.”

Meeso Sihn, 19, biochemistry major, is used to the ban in Burbank but thinks the new order is “stupid. Everyone should be allowed to smoke in school because school is very stressful.”

Sihn says she tries to keep other people in mind before she smokes and always ask them if they mind her smoking around them.

The ordinance states that it is a reasonable balance between the needs of persons who smoke and the needs of non-smokers, including children, to breathe smoke-free air, by recognizing the threat to public health and the environment that smoking causes, and by acknowledging that, when these needs conflict, the need to breath smoke-free air must prevail.

The non-smoking areas on campus are marked with signs and include all eating areas.
“People are going to smoke wherever they want,” said James Lee, 23, a marine, who was visiting his friends on campus.

Wagg anticipates there will be a no smoking law on campus in the future but right now he says that they are trying to balance both the rights of the smokers and the rights of the non-smokers.

“If the smoke bothers people and the smoker is violating the rules they can call campus police but if the smoke bothers them and it’s a smoking zone they are recommended to move to a different location,” said Wagg.

The ordinance states that it recognizes the right of city citizens, workers, and visitors to be from unwelcome secondhand smoke.

It also ensures a cleaner and more hygienic environment for the city, its residents, and its natural resources.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, an ambassador from neighborhood services will visit restaurants, businesses, and apartment owners to help them understand how the ordinance will be applied.

In Spring 2009, the city staff will begin to give out warnings and information about the ban.

When the ban goes into effect public officials will enforce it.