Smoking now banned in San Luis Obispo public places

Smoking in nearly all public places in San Luis Obispo is now banned by law.

A grace period that allowed businesses and other entities to adjust to the law ended June 20.

Under the new law, smoking is prohibited in indoor and outdoor areas frequented by the public, including sidewalks, parking garages, bars, restaurants, stores, stadiums, playgrounds and transit centers. Lighting up outside is also banned in places that are within 20 feet of indoor areas.

Exceptions include private residential units and designated hotel rooms, existing tobacco retailers, and outdoor areas in which no nonsmoker is present.

Bars that don't serve food may designate a smoking area located at least five feet from any doorway.

The city worked with the Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce to distribute educational brochures and window decals about the new law to downtown businesses, said Brigitte Elke, the city's principal administrative analyst.

The San Luis Obispo City Council approved the new law in April, following a vote in December to ban smoking in Mission Plaza, the downtown creek area and the city's parks.

Police will not actively enforce the smoking ban but may issue citations for violations, which start at $100. The fine increases to $200 on the second offense and $500 for multiple violations within a 12 month period.

--AnnMarie Cornejo