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OK To Tougher Smoking Ban

Smoking in outdoor public places is becoming a little tougher in the city of Elk Grove later this year.

The City Council approved last week an ordinance limiting children's exposure to secondhand smoke cigarettes by prohibiting smoking cigarettes within 300 feet of playgrounds, schools, day care centers or other places where children gather.

The 4-1 preliminary vote Wednesday – likely to become finalized in the next few weeks – will establish Elk Grove as the latest venue to heighten smoking cigarettes limits outdoors. Plenty of indoor restrictions already exist.

Elk Grove's ordinance also will extend the 25-foot distance that smokers already must maintain from tot lots, parks and playgrounds under the California Health and Safety Code.

Plenty of other localities in the region have imposed their own limits on outdoor smoking cigarettes, a Bee check shows. For example:

• Sacramento County prohibits smoking cigarettes within 20 feet of any door or operable window of government buildings, said Mark Barcellos of the county's Environmental Management Department.
• Yolo County has the same 20-foot limit at county buildings. Want a discount cigarette online at the Yolo County Fair? You'll have to go to the parking lot to light up, according to Steven Jensen, cigarettes store prevention coordinator for Yolo County.

• Parks are 100 percent smoke-free in Winters and Woodland. Woodland also prohibits smoking cigarettes within 20 feet of business entrances – and at the annual Christmas parade, Jensen said.

• The city of West Sacramento has smoke-free bus stops.

• Smoking bans in the city of Davis are many. Among them: Entryways to enclosed public areas, courtyards, ATMs, telephones, ticket lines, bus stops and cab stands, along with public gardens, children's play areas and more, according to Kelly Stachowicz, the deputy city manager in Davis.

• The city of Sacramento says don't light up in parks or cemeteries, said spokesman Maurice Chaney, a Sacramento County spokesman.

• The city of Folsom prohibits smoking cigarettes in most public places and common areas of many buildings such as retirement facilities, according to spokeswoman Sue Ryan.

The Elk Grove ordinance does have an exception. It allows organizers of community events such as veterans gatherings or harvest festivals to designate smoking cigarettes areas.

Only Councilman Gary Davis was opposed, noting that he preferred more restrictive language.

"What about the rights of people downwind?" Davis asked council colleagues before casting a "no" vote.

Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner said violations will be considered infractions. But, he added, it's hoped that disputes can be resolved amicably.

Law enforcement officers "are busy enough already," Councilman Jim Cooper, a captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, said at the meeting. "These (calls) are going to be low priority."

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