The Mill Valley City Council agreed to ramp up the city’s anti-smoking regulations Tuesday night, a decision that brings local laws in line with .
In doing so, city officials are looking to improve Mill Valley's standing in the Marin anti-smoking arena, having received an F for in the American Lung Association's annual State of Tobacco Control Report.
In unanimously tightening existing anti-smoking restrictions and adding some new ones, several councilmembers acknowledged the rapidly receding landscape on which smokers can light up in Mill Valley.
“Where exactly can you smoke in this ordinance?” Vice Mayor Andy Berman asked of the new regulations (listed below and attached at right). “I hate smoking. I think it’s a disgusting habit. But also it’s legal.”
The answer, from Bob Curry, who heads the county’s Tobacco-Related Disease Control Program, was pretty blunt, with few exceptions: In your car. In your house. And while you’re on the move outside.
The latter originated from a prohibition on smoking in “non-smoking buffer zones” outside either buildings where smoking is prohibited or outdoor areas where it is prohibited. From the city’s new anti-smoking law: “Smoking in Unenclosed Areas shall be prohibited within a Reasonable Distance from any Unenclosed Areas in which Smoking is prohibited, except while actively passing on the way to another destination and provided Smoke does not enter any Unenclosed Area in which Smoking is prohibited.”
For instance, if there is a live music event in the , you can't smoke at it. And if you want to smoke around the perimeter of it, you can only do so if you are on the move.
Berman said he was a bit concerned about police not being too heavy handed in enforcing the new regulations, particularly because the fine for a first offense is $100 and it climbs to $500 for the third offense.
“You don’t want to make this an unpleasant place to visit because you’re giving out $100 tickets to people because they happen to light up,” Berman said.
"I think they're actually trying to make it a nicer place to visit," Councilman Ken Wachtel replied. And the highway patrolman doesn’t stop everone who goes over 55 mph."
Despite the tightened anti-smoking restrictions, residents haven't expressed much concern over the issue. No one spoke out against the ordinance Tuesday night and Linn Walsh, the assistant to City Manager Jim McCann who coordinated the crafting of the new regulations, said an about the changes drew zero attendees.
The city's new anti-smoking regulations include:
- A ban on smoking in any place where food and/or drink offered for sale, including outdoor areas of restaurants and bars;
- A ban on smoking at a minimum of 20 feet from any entrance, opening or exit of any enclosed area, including windows;
- A ban on smoking within any park located in the City of Mill Valley on City property;
- Prohibition on smoking within a minimum of 20 feet of: Service lines (ATMs, ticket lines, bus stops, transit shelters, and cab stands; Working road, building and construction crews; Recreational areas (playgrounds, sporting facilities, children's play areas, and rinks);
- A ban on smoking at all public events including but not limited to, sports events, entertainment, speaking performances, ceremonies, pageants, parades, fairs and farmer's markets;
- Prohibition on smoking in any vehicles, buses, taxicabs, and other means of public transit under the authority of the City of Mill Valley;
- A ban on the disposal of smoking waste or tobacco product waste within the boundaries of an area in which smoking is prohibited;
- A permanent designation of a minimum of 80 percent of guest rooms in every hotel and motel and bed-and-breakfast facilities as completely nonsmoking;
- A tobacco retailer's license provision that will require retail licensing for tobacco sales, and gives cities leverage to penalize vendors who continue to illegally sell tobacco products to minors. Walsh said there are 10 businesses in Mill Valley that sell tobacco products.
Here's what else is happening on Mill Valley Patch:
- Photographer Suki Hill Turns Focus to Mill Valley Market Employees
- CHP Helicopter Rescues Woman From Mount Tam Cliff
- City Council Eyes Depot Plaza Plaque to Honor Jessup
- What is a Formula Business in Mill Valley?
For local news like this wherever you go, follow us! And don't forget to sign up for our daily e-newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.