A proposed ban on smoking in parts of San Luis Obispo County goes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, and if correspondence to date is any indication, the panel will draw considerable interest and be called upon to answer many questions.
The proposal would outlaw smoking at county mini-parks and neighborhood parks, in parking lots near county buildings and at other outdoor locations.
The county General Services Agency has been taking the proposed ordinance on the road and has compiled opinions and questions from community meetings from Shandon to Cayucos to Avila Beach, where the harbor district hosted a meeting.
Many of those who commented are seeking clarity. Would you be able to smoke on the Promenade at Avila Beach, for example, or on boats in the harbor or on Nacimiento Lake?
What about beaches? others asked. Cigarette butts are the scourge of people who walk barefoot on local beaches, one commenter said. Others called second-hand smoke — even outdoors — a health problem.
Many people asked whether it would be possible to enforce the ordinance, how that would be done and how much it would cost. “Enforcement? How? Who? Penalties? Why penalty if not really enforced?” said a commenter from Santa Margarita.
Some said the ordinance constitutes government intrusion on personal freedom.
“Another step to the ‘nanny state,’ ” said one commenter from Shandon. “Don’t do this. They don’t want us to make decisions on our own — this is overregulation.”
Although she does not have a vote on this ordinance, Supervisor-elect Debbie Arnold has already opposed it.
“I ran on a platform opposing overreaching regulation. I believe this ordinance to be just that,” she told The Tribune last month. The proposal is a public health necessity, according to those who drew it up.
“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” according to a report to the board from Health Agency Director Jeff Hamm and General Services Director Janette Pell.
They called the proposal a “wide-reaching effort that would place San Luis Obispo County in the forefront of tobacco-control efforts.” The current proposal calls for a ban at “structures owned, leased, concessioned or otherwise operated directly or indirectly by the county (and) all land appurtenant to those structures, including but not limited to parking lots, walkways, landscapes and patios.”
It would allow the county health officer to designate exemptions, and there is a specific proposal to allow smoking areas at county airports as well as at the psychiatric health facility.