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Calif. Town to Stub Out Smoking on Beach

October 27, 2003

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ This laid-back, funky seaside town has businesses with names such as the Naked Cafe, Belly Up Tavern and Do-It-Yourself Dog Wash, and the dress code is more Grateful Dead than boardroom.

But it’s laying down the law on its 1.4 miles of beaches: No Smoking.

``It’s a great idea,″ said resident Douglas Alden, 38, as he and his 2-year-old son, Clinton, had the cove at Tide Park all to themselves on a recent afternoon. ``Even in a wide-open space like this, the smoke tends to travel.″

Ban opponent Travis Stevens, a 26-year-old construction worker, doesn’t see it the same way.

``If you’re not blowing it in anybody’s face or anything, just minding your own business, I don’t think it should be a problem,″ Stevens said.

But even Stevens is upset by the cigarette butts littering the beach, the stairs leading down from the parking lot, and the bluff overlooking the surf. During a recent cleanup, cigarette butts were the top item collected, according to Mayor Tom Golich.

Now, Solana Beach is about to becomes the first California city to ban smoking on the beach, according to the American Lung Association.

The ban in the northern San Diego County town of 13,000 people was prompted by a group of high school students, who first asked the city to declare September a nonsmoking month on the beaches and in parks, then pushed for a permanent ban.

It was unanimously supported by the five-member City Council. After it takes effect on Nov. 20, first-time offenders can face a $100 fine.

Similar bans are in place at Honolulu’s Hanauma Bay beach, and at two public beaches in Sharon, Mass. Some beaches in New Jersey also have smoke-free zones.

Inspired by Solana Beach, Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss recently introduced a motion that would ban smoking on Los Angeles’ 10 miles of beaches as well.

Weiss said he and his children participated in a beach cleanup two weeks ago.

``We spent our time on our hands and knees picking up other peoples’ cigarette butts,″ he said. ``It’s disgusting and inexcusable.″

Weiss’ motion will be considered in the next several weeks, and he thinks it will pass.

``A decade ago when it was first proposed that smoking be banned in restaurants, they said it couldn’t and shouldn’t be done,″ he said. ``Look around today. You can’t smoke in a restaurant and the world hasn’t stopped spinning.″

But at Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, David Watson said Weiss’ idea would ``be like a total violation of a person’s civil rights, because we’re outside, you know what I mean?″

``I don’t think they’d want to enforce it, because there’s too many people down here that do smoke,″ Watson said as he puffed at a table outside a cafe. ``Even the cops smoke down here.″

___

Associated Press Writer Mason Stockstill in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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