Affects Most Indoor Public Places : Supervisors Vote Wide-Ranging Smoking Ban

Times Staff Writer

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday banned smoking in most indoor public places outside city limits, overriding the objections of Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who called the move "foolish."

The ban, which goes into effect May 1, will prohibit smoking in businesses, restaurants, government offices, elevators, hallways and other enclosed public places in unincorporated Ventura County.

It does not affect bars, bingo parlors, or hotel and motel rooms.

Eight of the 10 cities in Ventura County already have ordinances regulating smoking. However, Port Hueneme is drafting one that will probably be approved in March, City Clerk Karen Jackson said. Impetus for that ordinance came when an anti-smoking group complained to the City Council, she said.

Fillmore is the sole holdout. It has no ordinance regarding smoking and is not planning one, City Clerk Noreen Withers said.

Dougherty, who is a smoker, objected to the ordinance, saying that most restaurants and businesses have already implemented smoking policies and that the county should allow the market to regulate itself.

"I don't think it's appropriate for the county to go out and bust smokers," Dougherty said. "Next they're going to line us up against the wall and mow us down with AK-47s," he added in jest.

In a letter to the board, the Ventura county counsel expressed reservations about the enforceability of the law, especially as it relates to private employers.

The ordinance calls for businesses to post smoking policies. When a complaint is received, the county will investigate and may levy a fine of up to $500 per violation.

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