Reacting to complaints from the public, Cloverdale has decided to prohibit smoking at outdoor events.
When Cloverdale’s popular Friday Night Live evening concert series resumes in May, smoking will no longer be allowed there, nor will it be permitted at farmers’ markets, parades, and festivals.
The ordinance covers not only tobacco, and e-cigarettes, but marijuana smoke too.
The City Council last week approved introduction of the new ordinance, which is expected to take effect in early May.
Police Chief Stephen Cramer said it resulted from multiple complaints about both tobacco and marijuana use in the downtown plaza at Friday Night Live events.
Smoking will be allowed in public areas not used for the outdoor events, as long as it is 20 feet away.
Smokers who break the rule can expect a warning rather than citation.
“The intent is not strict enforcement. It’s a tool for us to approach people who are smoking and advise them where the smoking areas are, that smoking is now prohibited,” Cramer said.
In addition to citizen complaints about wafting smoke at public events, the police chief acknowledged another motivator for tightening the rules is the chronic failing grade Cloverdale has received from the American Lung Association for its outdated smoking ordinance, which had not been updated since 1989.
Cloverdale officials admitted the city’s current ordinance is out of compliance with state law and decided to delete any provisions that do not conform. For instance it allows smoking in indoor locations such as bars, waiting rooms and cafeterias, where state law now prohibits it.
Since 1998, California law has prohibited smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces, however, and businesses usually comply.
In revising their ordinance, Cloverdale officials cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that tobacco-related illnesses account for about 443,000 death each year in the United States. And the U.S. Attorney General concluded there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Many cities prohibit smoking in outdoor areas of restaurants, at city parks and at all places of employment.
According to recent lists compiled by the American Lung Association, 129 California cities or counties restrict smoking at outdoor dining areas, including most cities in Sonoma County; 118 cities/counties restrict smoking at public events; and 48 cities and counties restrict smoking on sidewalks in commercial areas.
Key places around the Cloverdale Plaza will have signs to advertise the new prohibition against smoking at public events.
“We’ll need a lot of signage. People are accustomed to smoking here,” said Councilwoman Carol Russell.
City Manager Paul Cayler said the city also will make sure the master of ceremonies at Friday Night Live events announces that it’s a smoke-free event.
Cramer said he is confident “95 to 99 percent” of smokers will comply, but there is an option for dealing with scofflaws who need more than just a warning.
Officers have the option to issue a citation that carries a $100 fine for the first offense; up to $200 for a second; and up to $500 for additional offenses.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or email@example.com. On Twitter@clarkmas.