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Paso bans smoking in public

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Paso Robles is catching up with the rest of the cities in SLO County as it looks to pass an ordinance that will ban smoking in public places on the heels of California’s vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

The city will become the last in the county to outlaw smoking in public. Its current ordinance, which was passed in 1988, only explicitly outlaws smoking in meeting facilities. On Feb. 7, the Paso Robles City Council unanimously decided to adopt a more comprehensive ordinance banning smoking—e-cigs, vaporizers, pipes, cigars, and cannabis—in public.

Under the new ordinance, which will go before the council for a second reading on Feb. 21, cannabis receives the most restrictions.

Although Proposition 64 allows the recreational use of marijuana by adults, Paso Robles Chief of Police Robert Burton said that cities and other local jurisdictions have the right to regulate smoking marijuana in areas where smoking tobacco is prohibited. The city seems to be to treating cannabis in a similar manner to alcohol, as the ordinance will make it illegal to smoke cannabis while driving. However, the ordinance doesn’t mention anything about edible cannabis.

Burton said the main goal of the ordinance is to protect the public from secondhand smoke of any kind.

The city is prohibiting all types of smoking in city-owned, leased, or operated public meeting facilities. It also expands smoking restrictions from parks, trails, the workplace, and common areas in multi-unit residential facilities.

During public comment, Kathleen Karle, division manager of SLO County’s Public Health Agency, spoke about the harmful effects of smoking and secondhand smoke. Karle said that the department is offering $3,000 from the department’s California Tobacco Control Program to help the city fund “no smoking zone” signage.

“One of the things that stops a city from developing an ordinance like this is if they don’t have enough in their budget for signs,” Karle said.

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