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CRA Successfully Negotiated Several Exemptions in L.A. Outdoor Dining Area Smoking Ban
The ordinance goes into effect 30–days after signature by the Mayor. Initially, there will be a one-year grace period which will allow business owners who allow or cater to cigar enthusiasts, an opportunity to adjust their business operations as well as educate customers on the new policy. Once the one-year period is over, there could be citations issued by City code enforcement officials for individuals and business owners who violate the policy. Maximum fines for violating any of the new provisions would be $250, as provided by state law.
The new policy will:
- ban smoking at outdoor dining areas of restaurants and within 10 feet of the area
- ban smoking in a food court or within 10-feet of that area
- ban smoking within a forty foot radius of a business, such as a food kiosk, food cart or mobile food truck that regularly sells or provides food or drinks but has no dedicated outdoor dining area
“From the day this motion was introduced, Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and their members, took the lead and directed policy strategy that ultimately led to significant modifications of the original ordinance motion”, said Victor Franco, Jr., Lobbyist for Ek & Ek Public Advocacy , who coordinated strategy and worked the issue day-to-day for CRA. “As soon as CRA brought us on-board, we went to work meeting directly with City Council Members and staff”.
While there is disappointment that Los Angeles City has enacted an outdoor smoking ban, the new ordinance does include several exemptions that were won by the CRA. Those exemptions include:
- Bars as well as Cigar Lounges are exempted from the policy
- Private, non-public events are exempt
- Restaurants that move to a lounge or bar experience via their City permit – particularly in the late evening hours – are exempt from the policy once patrons are required to be 18 or older
Partnering with Ek & Ek to work this issue at all levels of LA City Government, CRA staff, including Los Angeles-based Brian Berman (CRA’s Director of Membership) and other CRA members had one-on-one meetings with LA City Council Members.
“While we understand the council’s need to act on this issue, we wanted to make sure that council members understood how this is an infringement of personal freedom – not to mention the devastating business impacts and implications on retail and restaurant owners across Los Angeles City,” said Berman. “The cigar experience is precisely that, an experience. While a cigarette smoker may feel the need or urge to take a drag on a cigarette at any time during the day, cigar enthusiasts typically plan the event as an experience with fine wine, some Cognac, or after a nice dinner with friends,” Berman added after being asked by a City Council Member to differentiate a cigar enthusiast vs. a cigarette smoker.
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