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Los Angeles to ban smoking in all public places

11-11-2010 13:50 BJT

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Los Angeles City Council members unanimously agreed on Wednesday to ban smoking in all public areas.

By a 13-0 vote, the council proposed an ordinance which would impose a comprehensive ban on smoking in "all public areas and common areas where people congregate, including, but not limited to, indoor and outdoor businesses, hotels, parks, apartment common areas, restaurants and bars, and beaches", council members said.

The council has directed its attorneys to make legal preparations to implement the ordinance, said Councilman Bernard Parks.

The proposed ordinance would be ready for final approval sometime next year, said Parks.

He said the idea is not to ban smoking, but regulate where it can be done.

"I think you go down a path that you can't recover from (when you begin) talking about banning smoking because I think that's an individual decision, but we can protect people who have no desire to smell smoke," Parks said.

"We need to implement legislation to regulate cigarette smoking by limiting it to specific places where there is no expectation of involuntary contact with people -- wherever people congregate or there is an expectation of people being present, ( then) smoking should be prohibited," he said.

Parks said smoking is a voluntary addiction and not a right protected by the Constitution, "yet secondhand smoke harms an involuntary population which has a right to clean air and a clean environment and which is protected by many public health laws."

Los Angeles has already banned smoking in restaurants and other public places, such as parks and beaches.

Tobacco is the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in California, and that more than 60,000 Americans exposed to second- hand smoke die each year, according to the American Lung Association.

A study prepared by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department showed that there are about one million smokers countywide and about 435,000 in the city.

The same study estimated that tobacco-related diseases cost the county 4.3 billion dollars a year.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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