The Hermosa Beach City Council has decided to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would ban smoking in most public spaces, including Pier Plaza, public parking lots, the Strand, Greenbelt and other city parks.
The council in a meeting Tuesday night voted 4-1 to direct city staffers to draft the law, which will be presented at a council meeting on Oct. 25.
Councilman Kit Bobko voted against the measure.
When the council discussed banning smoking in January, he said that adding to the list of places where people can’t smoke and then penalizing those who do “is so Orwellian that I think Orwell would be offended by it.”
The new smoking measure, if approved in October, would be on top of the law that already bans smoking on the beach and in city-owned buildings.
Bobko asked city staffers Tuesday if the law would make it illegal to smoke near the Strand even if on private property, and City Attorney Michael Jenkins said that it would not.
Mayor Howard Fishman and Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Duclos introduced the smoking ban idea after a report was released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health last year that ranked Hermosa Beach amongst the worst for smoking prevalence—listing the city as 115th out of 127 communities.
Duclos championed the new ordinance as a law that would curb litter and secondhand smoke while allowing smokers themselves the chance to quit.
“I’ve dealt with this situation with my wife for years, who’s quit on numerous occasions but really would love to have that cigarette,” Duclos said. “For her, what some people would find repellent—the smell of cigarette smoke—has the absolute opposite effect,” and makes it harder to quit smoking, he concluded.
City Councilman Michael DiVirgilio also spoke to personal reasons for moving forward with the smoking prohibition.
“I watched as a teenager my grandfather shrivel trying to breathe. I have a very real, very visceral memory of what smoking can do to somebody,” he said.
About 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking-related causes and secondhand smoke nationwide each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.