Anaheim : Smoking Ordinance Due for Council Vote Today

Facing stiff opposition from the city's Chamber of Commerce, convention hotels and some businesses, an ordinance that would regulate smoking in both private and public places is scheduled for a vote today.

Anaheim City Council members have been considering the proposed smoking ordinance since last November. The most ardent opposition is aimed at the sections of the ordinance that deal with smoking in restaurants and in private offices.

"It is absolutely unfair and unmanageable to require restaurants . . . to adhere to an arbitrary 'half-and-half' smoking/no-smoking ordinance," Disneyland Hotel President Michael A. Bullis wrote in a Jan. 22 letter to Mayor Don Roth.

The Anaheim Hilton and Towers estimated that such an ordinance would cost the hotel $1.06 million in food and beverage revenue annually because patrons who smoke would either have to be turned away or would walk out the door "due to lack of immediate seating," wrote general manager Glenn A. Hale in a Jan. 20 letter to the council. The ordinance also would mean a loss of at least 21 jobs at the Hilton, Hale wrote.

Under the proposal--which more than half a dozen restaurant owners in Anaheim criticized in letters to the council--a restaurant with a capacity of 50 or more has to designate a non-smoking area.

The business community has criticized aspects of the proposed ordinance that would require half of employee cafeterias and lounges to be designated as non-smoking and would allow an employee to designate his or her immediate work area as a non-smoking area. If there are any disputes over office smoking, "the rights of the non-smoker shall be given precedence."

Allan B. Hughes, executive director of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, criticized mandatory smoking regulations, saying in a letter to the council that his group's opposition to the proposed ordinance "is based on the conviction that any attempt by government to regulate smoking in the private workplace is an unacceptable invasion into the private sector."

One area of the ordinance already has been amended to appease the business community. The ordinance was amended to say smoking "may be prohibited" in auditoriums or enclosed facilities open to the public--language that applies to the Convention Center, although it does not name it specifically, city officials said.

At both the Convention Center and Anaheim Stadium, the proposed ordinance leaves smoking regulations up to the discretion of the tenants. In the stadium, owners of suites and executive boxes would have control over smoking.

The ordinance also would prohibit smoking in elevators, hospitals and health-care facilities, theaters, public restrooms, indoor service lines, grocery stores and supermarkets.

While some businesses in tourist-oriented Anaheim have criticized the proposed ordinance, others, including Californians for Nonsmokers' Rights and the American Heart Assn., encouraged the council to adopt the new law.

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