Local merchants will work with city officials to create an ordinance to restrict smoking in public workplaces, according to a plan approved by the City Council.
Mayor Ric Loya, Councilman William P. Cunningham, City Atty. Steve Skolink, members of the Chamber of Commerce and other representatives from the business community will form a committee to draft an ordinance for the council’s consideration.
“It’s not our intent to come up with hard-core legislation (that would not allow) smoking anywhere,” Loya said. A smoking ban should not be so tough that it requires “police to pull out a gun and shoot out a cigarette,” he said.
The council voted, 4 to 1, to create the advisory committee. Councilman Thomas E. Jackson opposed the plan, saying that the city should not lead the way in legislating smoking rights.
Huntington Park follows Los Angeles, Pasadena, Laguna Hills, Long Beach and other cities to ban smoking in restaurants and public workplaces.
The movement has picked up steam since an Environmental Protection Agency report this year stated that 50,000 Americans die annually from the effects of secondhand smoke.
Efforts to enforce smoking bans have met opposition in some cities from restaurant owners who contend that such legislation would hurt business.
The Huntington Park Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the issues, said Dante D’Eramo, the chamber’s executive manager.
D’Eramo, a nonsmoker, said he would personally support some restrictions. “If they need to smoke they can always step outside and smoke out there,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask people to keep other’s health in mind and refrain from smoking in a restaurant.”
In a recent survey of 95 restaurants in Bell, Bell Gardens and Huntington Park, 30% of the managers interviewed said a smoking ban would hurt their business. The survey conducted by Huntington Park High School volunteers for the American Lung Assn. showed that 55% of the restaurant owners would support a city smoking ban or impose a ban voluntarily. About 49% of the establishments had nonsmoking areas.