MARTINEZ — Martinez could become the first city in Contra Costa County to ban smoking in most public places including parks, alfresco dining areas and outdoor workplaces.
On Wednesday, the City Council is holding a public hearing on an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in common areas such as laundry rooms, hallways and lobbies of multi-unit dwellings. It also would cover outdoor public places such as parks, bus stops and at public events. It also would ban smoking in all indoor and outdoor workplaces, as well as in vehicles used for work.
The law also would not allow smoking within 20 feet of any enclosed area where smoking currently is prohibited, such as bars and restaurants. So the groups of smokers who huddle in tavern doorways would have to move down the block if the council adopts the ordinance. State law prohibits smoking within 20 feet of entryways, exits and windows of public buildings only.
In January, the American Lung Association gave Martinez an 'F' for its efforts at controlling tobacco along with every other Contra Costa County city other than Concord, Clayton and San Ramon.
But cities are starting to do more to reduce residents' exposure to second-hand smoke. Novato, Dublin and Belmont recently passed tougher smoking ordinances. Serena Chen, regional director of policy and tobacco programs for the American Lung Association of California, said Californians — used to smoke-free workplaces, restaurants and bars — are becoming less tolerant of breathing second-hand smoke in public and at home.
"We're very excited that the county seat is considering these protections because basically (smoking is) an activity that is not necessary to any kind of income or job or productive outcome except for the tobacco industry," Chen said.
The public hearing is 7 p.m. Wednesday in the council chamber at Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.
Lisa P. White covers Pleasant Hill and Martinez. Reach her at 925-943-8011 or email@example.com.