The Redondo Beach City Council on Tuesday, May 7, unanimously approved the concept of a comprehensive public smoking ban — including e-cigarettes and cannabis — though the council still needs to vote on a formal ordinance before the proposal becomes law.
The concept also included requiring a tobacco retail permit.
The council first directed city staffers to look into a public smoking ban in September. At its Tuesday meeting, the council had essentially the same discussion, but further clarified details of the ban and retail permit. Currently, Redondo Beach prohibits smoking on beaches and public parks, and there is no local retail permit required to sell tobacco products aside from a business license.
Under the proposed ordinance, which staffers still need to draft, smoking in any public places—including sidewalks, parking lots and outside commercial private property—would be prohibited. The retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products and other smoking paraphernalia designed to appeal to young people would also be barred.
The proposed law in Redondo mirrors that passed by Manhattan Beach in 2014. Hermosa Beach also has a similar smoking ban.
In cities that have adopted a local tobacco retail permit, coupled with annual fees and enforcement, the rate of tobacco use among young people has declined, according to Elizabeth Jacoby with the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
In Pasadena, illegal tobacco sales to minors dropped from 20% to 0% after the city enacted a retail permit policy. In Burbank, the rate went from 26.7% to 4%, Jacoby said. Within L.A. County, 40 jurisdictions currently have laws that in various ways protect young people from tobacco, including Gardena, Carson, El Segundo, Culver City and unincorporated L.A. County, Jacoby said.
Redondo Beach resident Andrew Lesser said public smoking bans helped him quit smoking after 35 years.
“With the more pressure I felt toward becoming a pariah,” Lesser said, “I realized something had to give.”
If a retailer is found to have sold tobacco products to minors, under the proposed ordinance, the business would face a 60-day suspension after the first offense, a 90-day suspension after the second offense and a revocation of their tobacco retailers license after a third offense. The businesses would also have to pay fines.
Several councilmembers questioned whether such a smoking prohibition could actually be enforced.
“Smoking is banned in parks and Seaside Lagoon is a park,” said Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim. “But when we had BeachLife Festival, wow, the smells I was smelling out there. And I don’t think there was a single ticket given out.”
The police are probably not going to go around writing tickets for smoking, said Mayor Bill Brand.
“I’m a firm believer that our right to breath clean air by far supersedes those who want the right to smoke,” Brand said. “Just the fact that it becoming illegal helps people stop smoking is a good thing.”