ENCINITAS, Calif. – The Encinitas City Council is considering expanding the city’s outdoor smoking ban to cover more areas. If approved, the ban would cover most public places in general, including sidewalks and parked vehicles. The proposal is said to help cut back on toxic plastic pollution from tobacco or cannabis products.
“I was just blown away,” lifelong Encinitas resident Dianne Bagg shared with FOX 5 while out on a Tuesday evening stroll, but the gusty winds weren’t the cause. Rather, the sight of straws, lids, and cigarette butts littered along the shores of Beacon’s Beach.
“There was so much garbage on the beach today. I’ve lived here all of my life and I’ve never seen that much trash…people stick their cigarette butts in the piling, so it was a matter of finding a Kleenex or tissue to put in the trash,” Bagg expressed.
To tackle the issue, a new Encinitas proposal is said to expand the current ban of smoking along beaches, city parks, trails, and outdoor dining areas to cover sidewalks and parked cars.
Environmental advocates say it will reduce cigarette litter and discourage teens from lighting up.
“The thought is, the fewer places that you’ll drop a cigarette butt instead of taking care of it properly, the less of them on the ground, the less get into our storm water system, the less of them into our ocean,” said Marc O’Conner who is a member of the Environmental Commission with the City.
The move mirrors similar bans in El Cajon, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach which also prohibits smoking in public outdoor areas.
“Who says it’s not a problem in Encinitas? There are people who suffer from various breathing issues to the environment where animals can’t protect themselves, things that actually affect us as well, shared John Gjata, founder of EcoFest Encinitas.
Smoking in Encinitas would be allowed on both private properties, some hotel rooms and inside a vehicle that’s actively being driven. However, the ban would put a halt to lighting up in public or anywhere within 20 feet of a public place.
It’s a move Mike Reeder, a carpenter for a nearby disclosed restaurant in the works, says is a bit of an overstep.
“I don’t know if it’s bad for the town, I think it’s odd to intercede in someone else’s daily life,” Reeder said.
For Bagg, while she thinks it could help, she says the proposal won’t address the root of the cause.
“I’ll be optimistic and say it can’t hurt, but I also know our culture is people will do what they want to do and quite honestly I think littering is more of a conscious effort,” Bagg said.
The ordinance will be introduced at the Encinitas City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday. If adopted by Council, affected businesses would have 90 days to install no smoking signs and adhere to the new rules. The law would also be enforced by the Sheriff’s Department “…due to the transient nature of potential infractions.”
The ordinance would take effect on June 6, 2023, or on the 90th day after adoption, whichever is later, according to the agenda report prepared by Crystal Najera.