News - March 3, 2010

Smoking law could have broad reach

by Sean Howell

People who smoke cigarettes may find themselves pausing to examine their surroundings more often when they're within the borders of Menlo Park, if the city tightens its smoking ordinance as expected.

The changes the City Council will consider at its March 2 meeting would prohibit smoking in public parks, places of congregation such as ATM machines and bus stops, near openings to buildings such as windows and vents, and in common areas within multi-unit residences.

Perhaps most significantly, the ordinance would declare second-hand smoke a nuisance — enabling people to take legal action against others who smoke in their vicinity, such as in an adjoining apartment or condo unit.

The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, located in the Civic Center complex between Laurel and Alma streets.

The city drafted the ordinance in response to an extraordinary lobbying effort by Barbara Franklin, who decided to take up the issue after she was bothered by smoke wafting into her condominium unit from an apartment below hers. She began making presentations to the council about the dangers of secondhand smoke in late 2008, and has attended most council meetings since then, often sitting through the several hours of the meeting.

The council has received a trickle of correspondence about the issue from residents since then, with several people making nuanced arguments about how far the ordinance should go. But there has not been much organized opposition thus far, from real estate agents or other groups.

The revised ordinance would also enable the city to enforce a San Mateo County law, requiring tobacco vendors to obtain permits from the county. Some believe that requirement would decrease the incidence of vendors selling cigarettes to minors.


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields