In a major overhaul of its 15-year-old smoking ordinance, the City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to ban smoking — including electronic smoking devices — in most of Santa Barbara’s public spaces. Smoking will now be prohibited at beaches, parks, sports fields, outdoor rec areas, community centers, outdoor library plazas, public parking lots and structures, Stearns Wharf, and specific parts of the municipal golf course. Public walkways in commercial and residential areas will also be smoke-free. The citywide ban excludes the outdoor dining areas of 42 identified restaurants after 10 p.m. and bar patios.
The vote came after public comments on both sides of the argument for enhancing city smoking laws. Supporters cited secondhand smoke wafting into homes and businesses as well as the thousands of cigarette butts collected during regular beach cleanups. Detractors worried about the impacts to tourism and the late-night bottom lines of bars and restaurants. Ultimately, councilmembers followed the leads of Central Coast cities like Carpinteria and San Luis Obispo and opted for a more restrictive measure. “We have a certain image, a certain brand,” said Councilmember Jason Dominguez of Santa Barbara’s health-conscious reputation. Mayor Helene Schneider was both surprised and encouraged with the ease by which the ordinance was approved. “We did it,” she said, to applause from the audience.