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Local News in Brief : Smoking Ordinance Requirements Eased

Heeding protests from restaurateurs, the Beverly Hills City Council has dropped a requirement for expensive smoke ventilation systems in large restaurants and introduced a scaled-down smoking ordinance that requires restaurants to set aside at least 60% of their seating for nonsmokers.

Under the revised ordinance, which must go to the council on second reading, only large restaurants that open after Jan. 1 must install the ventilation systems. Also, new restaurants can avoid the requirement if they install walls separating smoking and nonsmoking areas.

The ordinance does not affect bars, lounges, private banquet rooms or restaurants in hotels.

The new measure is a victory for restaurant owners, who complained that the ventilation systems would be expensive and cumbersome. The old law requiring the systems was passed in July, 1987, after restaurant owners protested a highly publicized ban on all smoking in larger restaurants.

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