Claremont says thank you for not smoking
Smokers in Claremont will soon face gentle reminders that the city would prefer they light up only in private.
This week the City Council passed a resolution that allocates $2,000 for a marketing campaign that “encourages a smoke free environment.” Dozens of signs that read “Thank you for not smoking” will soon be posted around the community of 35,000.
Although Claremont already has ordinances that prohibit smoking in public parks and plazas, there are no rules against smoking in other outdoor public areas. That won't change, but city leaders say the marketing campaign will serve to reduce secondhand smoke while striking a compromise between advocates who wanted an outright smoking ban, and opponents who said a ban would violate civil rights.
“I would like to see an ordinance where there would be enforcement and a penalty for violators, but I knew that there was some apprehension so we went for the resolution,” Mayor Larry Schroeder said. “I think it will help. It will encourage people who see the signs around town and remind others.”
The signs, which will be posted at city limits and on light poles, will have the standard no-smoking symbol of a cigarette within a red circle and a slash through it. Table tents and indoor signs will also be produced for business owners and others who request them.
Schroeder along with Councilman Joe Lyons and the local grassroots group Clean Air Claremont pushed for the resolution, which passed, 4-1. Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali was the lone holdout and said that he felt the city's current smoking ordinances were sufficient and that the proposal was too broad.
“Public places could mean walking down my street, and am I not allowed to smoke around my street?" Nasiali said. "I am not a smoker, and I’m not in support of people smoking near others. At the same time, I think people who smoke should have a place to go where they’re not affecting others. I had problems with the signs too because they use a symbol which universally means 'no.' Without an ordinance to enforce that, it could be confusing.”
According to the resolution, a public opinion survey conducted by L.A. County's Tobacco Control and Prevention Program found that more than 70% of respondents in Claremont would favor a law that banned smoking on dining patios, in service areas, and near doorways and windows.
-- Corina Knoll
Photo: A woman smokes a cigarette in a park in 2009. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images