Patrons of Oceanside’s Civic Center library who step outside for a breath of fresh air will no longer be confronted with clouds of cigarette smoke under a proposal by Mayor Jim Wood.
Wood wants to ban smoking in the city’s Civic Center complex, which includes the library, City Hall and an open air plaza and fountain.
“Everybody hangs out around the fountain out there and the library,” said Wood, a nonsmoker. “It’s kind of a congregation of smokers.”
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Tell me about it, said City Manager Peter Weiss.
“If there’s one complaint we get about the library, it’s about people smoking right in front of the library,” said Weiss, who added that he quit smoking about 30 years ago when he started wheezing while running bases in a baseball game.
The mayor will ask his City Council colleagues Wednesday to amend the city code to include the plaza among public areas where smoking is banned.
Library director Deborah Polich said a smoking ban would be a boon to library patrons and workers.
Polich, also a nonsmoker, says she has nothing against those who indulge, but people entering and leaving the library often gripe about cigarette smoke.
“The city has an ordinance in place right now that prohibits smoking 20 feet from the doors and widows. We’ve had complaints from members of the public who feel like that is still not enough of a distance from the entranceway,” Polich said. “They need to walk through people who may be gathered smoking right at the entrance to the library.”
As if that’s not bad enough, Polich said cigarette smoke often drifts inside the library from its many windows with people perched outside to grab a puff or two.
Weiss said he also gets complaints about the mess some smokers leave behind.
“There’s people sitting around the pond, smoking, throwing their cigarette butts in the pond,” Weiss said.
Besides prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of public buildings, city codes also ban the habit in the workplace and in public parks, beaches and on the Oceanside Municipal Pier.
The city does allow employers to provide designated smoking areas.
Smoking also is allowed in private offices, some areas of hotels and in restaurants with a seating capacity for 20 or fewer at the discretion of the owners.
If the City Council goes along with Wood’s proposed ban, Oceanside would be following a growing trend among cities and private property owners to prohibit smoking where the public gathers, said Debra Kelley of the American Lung Association’s San Diego chapter.
“It’s definitely the wave of the future,” Kelley said. “It makes the vast majority of people who don’t smoke happy and the people who smoke find ways to work around it or they’ll smoke less or they’ll quit smoking.”