Response to new law is a lot of smoke

The recent hubbub and political meandering regarding smoking restrictions for outdoor dining areas was extraneous and misplaced.

In recent weeks, a divided City Council has attracted the ire of anti-smoking advocates from Glendale and beyond — not over some broad, overarching policy, but over a rule that affects just a few outdoor dining areas.

The changes affect restaurants with 5,000 square feet or more of outdoor dining space — all of two or three businesses in Glendale. If they meet that high threshold, they will be allowed to have smoking in 50% of the floor area, up from the current 25%. That brought out the anti-smoking lobby en masse, with advocates claiming the city was rolling back public health protections.

Again, a mere handful of restaurants have, or ever will have, that kind of outdoor dining space. For a city in the forefront of public smoking restrictions, this seems a curious point of contention for the anti-smoking lobby.

Meanwhile, the City Council is preparing to review a smoking ban for all new apartment units, and eventually create smoke-free sections for existing multi-unit buildings. That policy move carries far greater implications for residents, building owners and developers, and yet where was the hoopla when that proposal came up?

Let us hope a political discussion with as much rigor occurs when those proposals come back to the dais. In the meantime, for those upset about the outdoor dining concession, or the ongoing discussion over the width of buffer zones between smoking and non-smoking sections, we suggest the public take a more practical approach. Vote with your wallet.

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