Santa Clara County considering smoking ordinances

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Initiated by Santa Clara County District 4 Supervisor Ken Yeager, one ordinance would ban smoking in county parks, the county fairgrounds, outdoor shopping malls, retail stores where tobacco products are sold and guest and outdoor areas of lodging facilities.

A second ordinance would prohibit smoking in apartment buildings and other multi-dwelling complexes.

A third ordinance would require retailers that sell tobacco products to obtain and be governed by a county permit.

Infractions of the first two ordinances carry fines and tobacco retailers violating the third ordinance could see the county permit suspended.

"We know if you start as a teenager, chances are that you will become an adult smoker and have a lifetime of health issues and after smoking for a number of years, it's just much more difficult to stop," Yeager said.

Golfers at the Santa Teresa Golf Club in south San Jose, which is part of the county's park system, were not aware of the proposed ordinances. ABC7 heard comments on both sides of a ban. Some argued that part of the enjoyment of golf is playing in fresh air; others noted that cigar smoking is part of the "culture" of golfing.

Stanford researcher Lisa Henriksen noted that even young smokers begin showing adverse signs after their first cigarette.

"Some occasional and infrequent smokers report difficulty concentrating, irritability, nervousness and anxiety because they couldn't smoke," she said.

If approved, the retailer permit ordinance would be effective in 60 days following approval, while the other two would be effective in 30 days. The ordinances carry penalties of $100 to $200 and there will be a second vote next month.

The Peninsula city of Belmont passed an ordinance in 2007 to ban smoking in apartments and other multi-dwelling units. It took effect at the start of last year. According to code enforcement officer Kirk Buckman, no citations have been issued.

A $7 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control will fund anti-smoking educational programs as part of the Santa Clara County effort. The funds come from the federal economic stimulus program.

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