Alameda California is an island city located in the San Francisco Bay. It is located next to Oakland and across from San Francisco
The Alameda City Council has approved a new ordinance that aims to protect people from secondhand smoke by effectively banning smoking in all outdoor public places.
Smokers could run afoul of the new law — most of which will go into effect Jan. 1 — if they light up at a bus stop, ATM or even on a balcony of a multiunit rental complex.
But Alameda police also say that they do not plan to actively seek out violators and that much of their enforcement will hinge on whether someone is complaining about a smoker.
The ordinance exempts smoking patios at local taverns, such as the one behind Lucky 13 on Park Street, after local bar owners said outlawing them would drive away most of their customers.
Mayor Marie Gilmore said Tuesday, when the council unanimously backed the ordinance, that she was still concerned that allowing the patios would put bar employees at risk from secondhand smoke.
But Deputy City Manager Lisa Goldman said that issue could be worked out between the employee and bar owner, and that the city was attempting to strike a balance between protecting people while not undercutting business.
Supporters of the ordinance say it will promote public safety by preventing public areas from becoming “de facto” smoking spots, such as outside businesses where employees take breaks.
Under current state law, smoking is already prohibited in most indoor places of employment. The Alameda ordinance now extends the protections to all indoor workplaces now exempted by state law and adds outdoor workplaces and vehicles used for work.
Multiunit dwellings are included in the new ordinance because secondhand smoke cannot be controlled by ventilation or air cleaning, according to city officials.
The new law was initially proposed to go into effect Dec. 15. But the council decided to put it off until January because of the holidays and to allow people more time to learn about the ordinance.
By Peter Hegarty/Oakland Tribune