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Smoking ban begins at Sonoma County outdoor restaurant areas

Beginning today, smoking is prohibited in outdoor restaurant and bar areas that fall within the jurisdiction of Sonoma County.

The new rule is part of a larger anti-smoking package that seeks to bring the county in line with cities such as Santa Rosa and Sebastopol that have strict smoking prohibitions.

“This is part of envisioning Sonoma County as one of the healthiest places to live, work and play,” said Lynn Silver Chalfin, the county's new health officer.

“It means that you will be able to go out to dinner, a picnic or celebration and not be exposed to second-hand smoke.”

The areas affected are outside the boundaries of the county's nine cities and include large swaths of Wine Country, along with smaller communities of Kenwood, Boyes Hot Springs, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Guerneville, Forestville and Graton.

The rule bans smoking in outdoor dining areas such as patios at restaurants, bars and wineries. Designated smoking areas, while permitted, cannot be less than 25 feet from an outdoor dining area, nor can they be within 25 feet of any operable window, door or vent into an enclosed area.

“They can't set up a designated area that infringes on anybody else's space,” said Kelly Elder, manager of the healthy communities section of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

Last fall, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors strengthened its existing no-smoking ordinance by banning smoking in multi-unit housing, all county owned property and certain outdoor areas. The no-smoking rules were to take effect in stages.

Since November, smoking has been prohibited in outdoor common areas of multi-unit complexes.

In December, smoking was banned on all county-owned property, entryways and service lines such as theater lines.

Smoking inside apartments, condos and duplexes and in their attached patios will be prohibited beginning next January.

Designated smoking areas are permitted but heavily restricted.

Kerry Andrade, coordinator for the county's tobacco education program, said that Petaluma, which bans smoking in parks, is considering considering banning smoking in outdoor dining areas and entryways.

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