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Proposals Target Smoking in Pasadena

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Pasadena City Council has given preliminary approval to tough new anti-smoking regulations that go beyond state law, including a citywide ban on cigarette machines and the first effort in the county to outlaw cigarette displays that are not behind checkout counters.

The council also voted late Monday to require salesclerks to check the identification of anyone buying tobacco who appears to be younger than 21, and to ban smoking in large hotel lobbies.

Council members supporting the measures said they are needed to prevent young people from smoking.

“It’s very easy to start smoking. It’s very hard to stop,” said Councilman Paul Little, who began smoking as a teenager and quit after more than a dozen years. Little said he has heard of children as young as 11 sneaking into bars for cigarettes.

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State law prohibits smoking in most public places, including bars, restaurants and workplaces. It also bans cigarette vending from all places except those with liquor licenses.

Although health advocates applauded the move, some business owners Tuesday questioned the wisdom of more regulation on Pasadena businesses.

“The smoking ban in bars is already killing my business and now without telling us they are doing this to hurt us even more,” said Jennine Terzo, owner of the 35er bar, which has a cigarette machine.

“Why would anyone bother to ban cigarette machines in bars that don’t allow in anyone under 21?” asked Terzo, noting that a person over 18 can legally purchase cigarettes.

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The City Council voted 4-2, with Councilwoman Ann-Marie Villicana absent, to direct the city attorney to redraft the city’s smoking ordinance to include the new measures.

The laws would take effect after the council gives final approval to the revised ordinance.

Councilmen William Crowfoot and William Paparian voted against the proposal, saying that they support efforts to keep tobacco out of the hands of youths but were not willing to go further than state or federal law.

“We could round up all the smokers and put them in an education camp in the Rose Bowl,” Paparian sarcastically said.

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The council deadlocked 3-3 over a proposal to ban smoking within 20 feet of doorways of buildings. Mayor Chris Holden joined Crowfoot and Paparian in opposing it.

Deborah Silver, a health department official, said Tuesday that her agency is considering further restrictions, including a requirement that all tobacco sellers register with the city.

Esther Schiller of Tobacco Control Coalition, a local anti-smoking group, told the council the proposed laws are designed to protect residents’ health regardless of state and federal laws.

Still, bar owner Terzo said, “my councilwoman is going to be hearing from me and I expect the rest of the council is going to be hearing from a lot of business owners.”

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