To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Los Angeles City Council voted 15-0 on Wednesday to ban smoking at City-permitted Farmer’s Markets.
What was more interesting were the comments from the individual Council members:
>> Wendy Greuel (2nd District), Janice Hahn (15th) and Tom LaBonge (4th) confined their remarks to the issue at hand and said that smoking should be banned at these weekly market events. Importantly, Greuel pointed out that the ban is about the marketplace and that if someone is smoking, they can move across the street or down the street. She did not make any blanket statements about prohibiting smoking everywhere at all times.
>> Herb Wesson (10th) noted that he is the only smoker among the Council members, but supports this ordinance as a way to keep food and smoking separated.
>> Bill Rosendahl (11th) said he was a reformed smoker and quit at age 39 (he’s 63 now), but had some pointed questions for Assistant City Attorney David Schulman about enforcement. While Schulman – clearly an advocate for this policy – insisted that the ordinance will be self-policing (meaning no one will violate it), but he admitted under close questioning that "if push came to shove," the Los Angeles Police Department would have to be involved in enforcement.
>> Greig Smith (12th) is an activist on this issue and made clear his position that smoking should be banned everywhere and at all times, in the U.S. and "across the world." He related a story of family members who were and are long-time smokers and have either died of lung cancer or are suffering from it. Smith also pushed for quick passage of his proposal to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas and is clearly a driver for banning smoking in Los Angeles.
The other nine Council members (including Bernard Parks) did not speak on the issue. If you want to watch the "debate," you can do so on the City of Los Angeles website using this link (jump to item no. 10 in the pull-down menu for the Farmer's Market item).
In response to Smith’s prodding, LaBonge reiterated that the outdoor dining areas ban was being discussed with the "restaurant industry" to gauge its impact.
The approved ordinance will now be sent to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for signature, which will be virtually automatic. The ordinance will be effective in a couple of months.