OCEANSIDE — City Council took the first step to ban bar and restaurant patio smoking by directing the city attorney to draft a no smoking ordinance on May 1, which will be brought back to council for a final vote.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez proposed the ordinance because of the health and safety issues of secondhand smoke.
“Summer is coming and every single restaurant in town wants to have the opportunity to have outdoor dining,” Sanchez said. “Families do not want to be sitting outside enjoying dinner with outside smoke.”
Oceanside resident Chris Wilson said he is a smoker and is in support of the ban.
“Servers at the establishments have to service customers outside and breathe in secondhand smoke,” Wilson said. “My actions do affect other people.”
“Our society is slowly moving forward to be smoke-free,” Councilman Gary Felien said. “My personal opinion is going to a smoke free environment is good in the long term.”
Council approved giving direction to draft the ordinance in a 4-1 vote in which Councilman Jerry Kern voted no.
Kern objected to the ban infringing on business owners’ rights to offer outdoor smoking areas for customers.
Kern questioned how “wide and deep” the ordinance would reach. He asked about its effect on “cigar nights” and other smoking events and outdoor dining at golf courses. City Attorney John Mullen said smoking events could be addressed within the ordinance.
Then Kern addressed a group of students who had attended the meeting and had collected 844 signatures opposing outdoor dining smoking.
“Don’t let the heavy hand of government dictate to you how to live your life,” he said.
Many downtown eating and drinking establishments have ashtrays on their outdoor tables or spittoons set up for customers. Tremont St. refers to its outdoor patio as the “smoking patio.”
Managers and staff on duty at Tremont St., Pier View Coffee Co. and Pier View Pub said they were not aware that City Council was considering the outdoor smoking ban. Some asked, “Where are people supposed to smoke?”
“That’s going to effect our business a little bit,” Stacey Martin, manager of Tremont St., said. “A lot of cigar smokers like to sit out there and have a beer.”
A draft of the smoking ban ordinance will be given to the Chamber of Commerce to distribute to interested parties prior to council’s final vote.
Oceanside already bans smoking in city parks and beaches.
The cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Mar ban smoking in outdoor dining areas.