Manhattan Beach tightens smoking restrictions

Citing the need to promote public health and reduce litter, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure to outlaw smoking on The Strand and Veterans Parkway along Valley Drive and Ardmore Avenue, otherwise known as the greenbelt.

“The Strand has become the designated smoking for people that know they can’t smoke on the beach,” said Councilman Wayne Powell, whose parents died early in life from smoking-related illnesses. “To take a smoking break, they go on The Strand. I feel that we should have that area smoke free, just like the greenbelt.”

Smoking lady on the Manhattan Beach

Smoking lady on the Manhattan Beach

The Strand and greenbelt are popular exercise routes. Penalties for smoking will range from $50 for a first violation to $250 for multiple violations. The law will go into effect in early October.

A 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that tobacco-related illnesses are the leading cause of preventable death in the country, accounting for about 443,000 deaths each year.

The city’s latest smoking ordinance is another incremental step toward a comprehensive ban. Smoking was outlawed in parks and on the city’s beaches in 2004. The original ordinance included The Strand, but was scaled back after members of the council felt it was too far-reaching. Lighting up in public areas and places of employment in Manhattan Beach was banned in 1987.

Earlier this year, elected officials in Hermosa Beach decided to move forward with a proposal to outlaw smoking in the city’s popular Pier Plaza area. The proposal has been met with mixed reaction, with some bar owners fearing a smoking ban could affect business. A permanent ordinance could be adopted before the end of year.

Manhattan Beach Councilman David Lesser, acknowledging that some could argue that it’s not necessarily government’s role to dictate all aspects of human behavior, said he supports the smoking ordinance.

“But the contrary argument, which is prevailing for me, is public health research shows the impacts of secondhand smoke,” Lesser said. “That is very persuasive for me. And to see cigarette butts on The Strand is terribly disheartening.”

Like Powell, Councilwoman Amy Howorth’s parents died from smoking-related illness.

“This is a passion for me to clean up the world,” she said. “I’m really proud to do this.”

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