West Hollywood : Smoking Ordinance Approved

The City Council has approved a modified version of a citywide smoking ordinance that had been called "the toughest in the state" by an American Cancer Society official.

The new law, which will go into effect in less than two months, forbids smoking in retail stores, food markets, buses and shuttles, taxicabs, theaters, elevators, libraries, hospitals, restrooms, galleries, child-care and senior-citizen facilities, pharmacies and public offices.

The council passed the smoking law unanimously last Thursday. Councilwoman Valerie Terrigno was absent during the vote.

Smoking in restaurants and in private offices and work places will also be limited under the new law, but pressure from restaurant and business owners brought about changes in the original measure.

The earlier version required smokers and nonsmokers to be separated by room dividers or walls in work establishments. The new version allows smokers and nonsmokers to be separated by distance or other less restrictive means, said Paul Koretz, an aide to Councilman Alan Viterbi, who sponsored the bill.

Under the new law, restaurants with capacity for more than 35 diners would be required to provide at least 40% of their seating for nonsmokers. In the earlier version, restaurants were required to set aside 50% of their seats for nonsmokers.

Violations will be treated as misdemeanors and could be prosecuted. But Koretz said criminal prosecution would probably be rare. "There has to be a stick in the background to get compliance," he said.

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