A New Smoking Restriction in San Francisco

Anti-tobacco scientists proposed a new smoking ban in San Francisco which was accepted by health professionals interested about the dangers of secondhand smoke. However they got a negative answer from local bar and nightclub owners who fear that the new restriction would drive away their clients.

New smoking legislation

The new legislation would interdict smokers from lighting up in front of shops, restaurants and office buildings or puffing away at a pavement cafe or in designated smoking places. Movie theater lines, sporting events, farmers’ markets and public areas of apartment complexes would be forbidden too.

In general smoking bans went into effect in San Francisco more than a decade ago and at the time were some of the severe anti-smoking laws in the United States.

But since then, the city has fallen behind in attacking the secondhand smoke effects, which can cause asthma, heart ailments and other problems, health officials warn.

Dr. Mitch Katz, who heads the San Francisco Department of Public Health said: “We are not against smokers. But the action we most need to do is to protect people from the injury of secondhand smoke, and this law is a big step in that direction.”

Examiner Eric Mar, chief sponsor of the legislation, already has made several amendments to tamp down some resistance from property owners and business operators.

For example, Don Alan, who owns the Hemlock Tavern on Polk Street, fears being obliged to shut down a smoking patio. He argued that it was established for the security and opportunity of our patrons and to reduce noise and mess in our neighborhood. He and other business owners asserted that losing the smoking patio would damage business, which is the last thing they want to see in this weak economy.

Suki Wen, who works at a coffee shop in Chinatown, explained that the intended prohibition couldn’t come soon enough.

She declared: “When I’m working, I can smell the smoke from outside. We can’t get away from it.”
Scientists concluded that restaurant owners still have concerns that banning smoking at outdoor tables would hurt business, but the hope of protecting their employees from secondhand smoke won out.

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