Nonsmokers could breathe easier under a Long Beach City Council proposal that would tighten local restrictions on smoking in the workplace and restaurants.
The proposal, drafted by a council committee, would prohibit smoking in all common work areas, cafeterias and employee lounges at companies employing two or more people. Currently, those areas must have a nonsmoking section for at least half the seating capacity, and the law only applies to companies with five or more employees.
The ordinance would also increase the amount of space restaurants have to set aside for nonsmokers from one-quarter of the seating area to two-thirds. The proposal represents a compromise between restaurant owners, who argued that the changes would hurt business, and anti-smoking activists, who pointed out the hazards of secondary smoke.
“I’m so frustrated by treating people with cancer, either those exposed to second-hand smoke or smokers,” said Dr. Stephen Brunton of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
“I think the recommendations are weak,” Councilman Evan Braude said. “I’d go for no smoking entirely in restaurants.”
But Craig Hofman, president of Hof’s Hut restaurants, complained: “It’s going to really impact our sales. We have a lot of smokers and they’re going to go to other cities.”
The committee will hold another meeting at 12:30 p.m. March 18 in City Hall to discuss the proposed ordinance.