Health & Medicine

Davis bans smoking in parks, other public areas

The city of Davis has extended its ban on smoking to places such as its downtown park, which was crowded during a farmers market in 2008.
The city of Davis has extended its ban on smoking to places such as its downtown park, which was crowded during a farmers market in 2008. Sacramento Bee file

Davis has joined cities around the state in prohibiting smoking in parks, recreational areas and the city’s main downtown plaza, as part of a statewide push to further restrict where people can light up.

On Tuesday night, the City Council unanimously approved expanding 20-year-old limits that required smokers to stay 20 feet away from eating areas, public entryways and a variety of other outdoor spaces.

Councilman Lucas Freirich said many people have complained specifically about smoking in the city’s downtown plaza, which is surrounded by restaurants and is covered under the new rules.

“You’re downtown out shopping and you’ve got folks blowing smoke – that’s not comfortable,” Freirich said. “We wanted to make sure that the ordinance was more thorough.”

Such public smoking bans have already become law in a handful of California cities, including San Ramon and Pleasanton, which voted unanimously in favor of the change on July 23. In Sacramento, Councilman Steve Hansen introduced an ordinance last year that would ban smoking on patios that extend into public space, but the City Council has yet to vote on it.

California regulations ban smoking within 25 feet of a children’s play area or 20 feet from the entryways of public buildings.

Davis Mayor Dan Wolk said the city now is looking at a ban on smoking inside private homes that are part of multifamily housing units, a step that other California cities, such as San Rafael, have already taken.

Freirich said the city has received minimal organized opposition to the change. “Mostly we had a few emails from folks saying, ‘You’re stamping on our freedom,’ ” he said.

Parks and outdoor venues are the No. 1 locations outside of home and work where people are exposed to secondhand smoke in California, according to a 2005 survey by the state. About half of adults reported suffering from smoke exposure.

People caught violating the smoking ban for the first time will be cited and fined up to $50.

According to the municipal code, people can smoke in public areas open to the sky that are at least 20 feet away from a public event and are not the entryway, queue or gathering area to an enclosed environment. Smoking also is not allowed on public stairways, at cab and bus stops, public phones, ATMs and areas where air circulation may be impeded by architectural, landscaping or other barriers.

The Davis Municipal Code is available online.