Smoking in La Cañada Flintridge could soon become more restrictive in public places after officials showed strong support this week for an ordinance to curb second-hand smoke.
The City Council considered the proposal by the city's Youth Council on Monday night, which would ban smoking at or within 20 feet of outdoor dining areas, city-owned property, shopping centers and public events.
Smoking is already restricted in most enclosed public places, including places of employment, on trails and near playgrounds and government buildings.
Joelle Dorse, a recent graduate of La Cañada High School and the driving force behind the proposal, said she started researching the effects of second-hand smoke after her aunt passed away from lung cancer several years ago. Her aunt never smoked, she said. Dorse urged the council to push the ordinance forward.
"With other local cities adopting similar ordinances, I think it is time that we stepped up and took a more active stance against the effects of second-hand smoke," she said.
Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena have all enacted bans against smoking in public.
Four City Council members were in favor of tightening the restrictions on smoking. Councilman Dave Spence was not in attendance.
"It's not restricting an individual's right to smoke within the city, but it's protecting everyone who uses our public and open spaces, which I think is very important," said Councilman Michael Davitt.
Less than a dozen restaurants in the city offer outdoor seating, where smoking is currently allowed unless the business has created its own policy.
"I really think there's just a handful of restaurants which would be affected," said Davitt. "I don't think it would be detrimental."
Councilman Donald Voss agreed.
"We could take the time now and talk to all the restaurants in town, as a courtesy, but it wouldn't change the outcome of the ordinance in my mind," said Voss.
But some restaurants say they have customers who want an area to smoke.
"It would affect us," said Robert James, a day manager at Taylor's Steakhouse. "Some of the regulars who come here like to have a drink and smoke at the same time on our patio."
James added that if other customers are bothered by the smoke, the restaurant staff doesn't allow it.
Starbucks enacted a company policy last month that bans smoking on their outdoor patios, including the location on Foothill Boulevard.
Under the proposed ordinance, smoking would still be allowed in residential areas, unenclosed areas surrounding industrial and commercial properties, public sidewalks and at designated "smoking outposts." Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, would not be included in the ban.
The Youth Council has a history of trying to limit tobacco use in the city. In 2010, they encouraged the City Council to pass a law allowing the city to shut down retailers who sell tobacco products to minors.
The City Council is expected to vote on adopting the law at its next meeting, on July 15.