By: Kaitlin Hwangbo
Photography by: Luis Diaz Devesa
Following in the footsteps of Orange County cities Laguna Beach and Dana Point, Irvine is proposing a smoking ban on all public property.
The state of California has already passed a law that bans smoking in state parks and beaches, but cities like Laguna Beach and Dana Point have taken a step further and banned smoking in all public spaces. These public spaces include public sidewalks, alleyways and parking lots. With the new bill, the city of Irvine will take a step in the same direction.
Councilmember Farrah Khan and Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Kuo have both stated that they intend this ban to create a healthier environment for a more responsible community.
Unlike Irvine’s previous 2007 smoking ban on cigarettes, the proposal discusses how the ban will include e-cigarettes and a stricter domain for smoking areas. This is in part to increased research on the health effects of smoking and of second-hand smoke.
“When I sat with the city attorney, we saw the current regulation was lacking the substance needed today, especially with lots in the news about smoking, and all the data we have now about second-hand smoke is tremendous,” Khan said.
Irvine was given an “F” rating in 2019 by the American Lung Association. The city of Dana Point was given a higher grade of “C,” thus predicting where Irvine will stand with the bill’s passing. In addition, there have been around 1,604 cases of e-cigarette use associated with lung injury as of Oct. 22 throughout the U.S.
The bill’s reading, originally scheduled for Oct. 10, was postponed to Oct. 22 after confusion about the clear distinction between “public” and “private” property.
The new bill “block[s] residents from smoking nearly anywhere besides their private residence, with the addition of streets, parking lots, common rooms, businesses and bike paths as nonsmoking areas.”
Public smoking will be fined, but Councilmember Khan stated, “we do have fines in place… But the goal isn’t to have police looking out for people, but educating the community.”
Rather than having police actively enforcing the law, Khan hopes that Irvine residents will learn how to regulate their smoking.
According to Khan, the bill could be made law as soon as late November.