|Richmond Reaches for Smoking Triple Crown
July 3, 2009
When Richmond earned an “F” grade from the American Lung Association (ALA) of California’s annual State of Tobacco Control Report Card for 2008, it got our attention. Three categories of tobacco control policies were looked at for each jurisdiction in the state: Smokefree Outdoor Air, Smokefree Housing and Reducing Sales of Tobacco. Only one jurisdiction in the state (Glendale) made a combined grade of "A" and the unincorporated area of the County of Contra Costa tied with four other cities for second place in the Bay Area with a combined grade of "B".
It turned out that Richmond had only one of the recommended ordinances on the books, and it was both incomplete and unenforced.
Since then, the City Council got busy and directed staff to develop the necessary legislation to bring Richmond from the bottom to the top. This was particularly important for Richmond as a public health issue because residents of the City are already subject to abnormally high incidences of asthma, and parts of the City have high exposures to environmental air pollutants from freeways, railroads and the Port of Richmond.
In June, the City Council adopted three pieces of legislation unanimously and without any public opposition:
On Tuesday, July 7, the City Council will have an opportunity to adopt the final ordinance that will vault it into first place. Item H-4 is an ordinance (first reading) adding Chapter 9.57 to the Richmond Municipal Code regarding the prohibition of smoking in and around multi-unit residences within the City of Richmond - Councilmembers Butt, Ritterman, and
Rogers (620-6581). The purpose of the ordinance is to limit the exposure of residents in multifamily residential buildings to secondhand smoke.
The documents below can be accessed from the City’s website:
· INTRODUCE an Ordinance (first reading) adding Chap - Agenda Request Form - City Council.doc (http://sireweb.ci.richmond.ca.us/sirepub/cache/2/v50bbt45rq023i45ckpnml55/13488207032009064253559.PDF)
· INTRODUCE an Ordinance (first reading) adding Chap - Agenda Report - Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing Ordinance - FINAL(sm).doc (http://sireweb.ci.richmond.ca.us/sirepub/cache/2/v50bbt45rq023i45ckpnml55/13488307032009064320874.PDF)
· INTRODUCE an Ordinance (first reading) adding Chap - (Draft) Richmonds Smokefree Housing Ordinance - FINAL (sm).doc (http://sireweb.ci.richmond.ca.us/sirepub/cache/2/v50bbt45rq023i45ckpnml55/1348840703200906434549.PDF)
· INTRODUCE an Ordinance (first reading) adding Chap - Tobacco Smoke-Free Areas Addendum.pdf (http://sireweb.ci.richmond.ca.us/sirepub/cache/2/v50bbt45rq023i45ckpnml55/13488507032009064408974.PDF)
The ordinance will be opposed by the California Apartment Association for much the same reasons that the restaurant lobby opposed the smoking ban in restaurants and bars many years ago. They said it would ruin their business and unfairly burden them with enforcement. Of course, neither were true. The restaurant industry thrived as never before, and no one even thinks about it any more. California became model for the rest of the country.
As much as we would like to be the ground breaking pioneer on this one, we will not be the first.
I want to share with you an email I received from Belmont City Council Member Coralin Feierbach:
Dear Richmond Mayor McLaughlin and Council Members:
I understand that on this coming Tuesday night, you will be considering a smoking ordinance similar to ours in Belmont CA.
I read your proposed ordinance and it is indeed comparable to ours.
When we voted for our ordinance, we were the first in the nation, maybe even the world to adopt such a strong ordinance. Reporters from all over the world came to visit us and interview us. It was a difficult time for we were much maligned by the press and also by very negative emails sent to us by smokers from all over the world.
It was a 3-2 vote. We had made it! It had passed!
The ordinance has been very successful. We’ve had no lawsuits. As a result there is little smoking in this town of ours. We are including little signs to be posted on windows when businesses renew their business licenses.
It takes a lot of courage to vote for this kind of ordinance but in retrospect, it was the right thing to do and the interesting thing is after the initial uproar, there has been very little objection to the ordinance.
It took three brave souls, Councilpersons Warden, Mathewson and me to vote that way.
This happened a couple of years ago. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to call me. I will be around this weekend.
Thank you for even considering this very important step,
Everyone knows the dangers of second hand smoke but here is an article about third hand smoke which is an eye opener:
Belmont City Council Member
Please visit my webpage at www.coralin.net
Anarticle that appeared in the West County Times last month is posted below:
Richmond, Pinole crack down on secondhand smoke
Posted: 05/22/2009 11:50:51 AM PDT
Updated: 05/22/2009 05:23:11 PM PDT
Smokers in Richmond and Pinole soon will have fewer places to light up.
The cities are cracking down on secondhand smoke by banning smoking in outdoor public areas such as parks, trails and where parades, farmers markets and other public events are held.
Richmond's far-reaching ban also prohibits smoking in indoor places where people congregate and work -- regardless of whether it's publicly or privately owned -- including eateries, bars, hotel lobbies, conference rooms and common areas in apartment buildings. People will still be able to smoke at home and on sidewalks and streets, but not within 25 feet of a door, window or vent that leads to a place where smoking is prohibited.
"There was a big brouhaha when we got smoking out of restaurants, airplanes, bars and so on, and we've all adjusted to it," Richmond Councilman Jeff Ritterman said. "This is just part of the same, and it's going to put us in the forefront of being leaders in public health."
Pinole's ban isn't as broad. Officials already prohibit smoking in buildings, vehicles and other public areas occupied by city employees, and will extend the rule to parking lots and to within 20 feet of public building entrances.
Officials in the two cities gave preliminary nods to the bans this week and expect to give final approval next month. The laws will go into effect 30 days after final approval -- just in time for Pinole's Summer Sounds in the Park and Pinole Cinema Fridays at Sundown, the city-sponsored concert and film series in Fernandez Park that begin July 9 and 10.
Secondhand smoke is listed as a human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
California legislators passed laws in 1995 and 1998 declaring most indoor workplaces smoke-free, following up in 2004 with banning smoking within 20 feet of doors and windows of public buildings. Cities and counties have since passed laws of their own that are broader than the state's.
Contra Costa County already restricts smoking in many public areas, service areas such as ATMs or bus stops and common areas of multiunit residences. Now they want apartment owners to tell prospective tenants which neighbors smoke and how they handle cigarette complaints.
The city of Belmont has gone as far as prohibiting smoking in individual apartment units if the unit shares a common floor or ceiling with another unit.
Except for San Ramon, every Contra Costa city earned a "D" or an "F" for having anti-smoking laws in an American Lung Association report released in January. Contra Costa County, which also requires tobacco retailers to pay $160 for licenses, got a "B."
Richmond's "F" grade prompted officials to toughen their laws.
Violators of the new secondhand-smoke law in Richmond could be charged with infractions or misdemeanors. Fines could go up to $1,000 per violation if the city files a civil suit. In addition, tobacco retailers would be required to get a license before selling; the fees would be set later. A third law would make it illegal to distribute free samples of tobacco products in public places, one of the ways tobacco companies lure young adults, officials said.
In Pinole, a violation would be an infraction carrying penalties starting at $100 and increasing to $500.
Richmond resident Valerie Yerger, a health disparities researcher at the UC San Francisco who said tobacco disproportionately affects certain groups including minorities and the poor, applauded the new laws.
"Having smoke-free policies has been shown to be the most effective way to keep young folks from picking up smoking and to help reduce smoking among adult smokers," she said.Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760 or email@example.com.