Santa Cruz, CA - cigarette smoking drops on downtown streets..

August 25, 2010 - Cigarette smoking on Pacific Avenue has dropped significantly since a ban went into effect last fall, according to the results of an informal survey released last week.

Background: Citing the dangers of second-hand smoke and the number of cigarette butts littering the streets and beaches, city leaders in Santa Cruz will meet Tuesday, September 8th to extend a smoking ban through much of downtown. (Santa Cruz to Vote on Major Smoking Ban,, 9/2/2009)

As expected city leaders on Tuesday, September 8th unanimously approved a smoking ban along Pacific Avenue, Beach Street and West Cliff Drive, among other spots, and agreed to consider a new fee on cigarette sales in the near future. These streets are in the city's downtown commercial district and the main street running along the beach. The measure also prohibits smoking within 25 feet of commercial doorways, windows and air ducts, and increases the required percentage of non-smoking hotel rooms in the city.

Santa Cruz, CA - extends outdoor smoking ban..
Natasha Kowalski, senior health educator for the county's Health Services Agency, said teams of observers who walked Pacific Avenue during a three-week period before and after October's ban noted 62 percent fewer smoking incidents overall and 75 percent fewer per hour on average. "Our goal is for residents and visitors to breathe less second-hand smoke," Kowalski said. "We know second-hand smoke is harmful and studies show it's not just indoors, but has an effect outdoors."

Similar to the 2008 survey, observers found that smokers were seen more in the evening. Observers noted seeing about 12 smokers per hour in the evening compared to about 10 in the afternoon and about seven in the morning.

Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty, who co-owns a business downtown, said the ban has encouraged more shop owners and residents to ask smokers to extinguish their cigarettes or move along. "It empowered people to address what is often times annoying and unhealthy behavior," Coonerty said.

Councilman Don Lane, who along with Coonerty and Mayor Mike Rotkin, brought the ordinance to the council, welcomed the news. "It shows that people are getting the message," he said.

Police have issued 313 citations for violation of the ban since an initial 30-day window when officers could only issue warnings. Officers still have the discretion to issue a warning first, and department spokesman Zach Friend said those who are cited are usually multiple offenders and not tourists or others who don't know about the ban.

Surveyors also interviewed downtown business owners and hospitality officials, who largely noted a drop-off in smoking. But not everyone agrees the law has had an overwhelmingly positive effect.

Kymberly East, owner and operator of the coffee cart in front of Logos, said, "I see an ordinance like this creating greater hostility between people with different needs, rather than creating a dialogue. I'm not noticing that there's less smoking."

Adam Hoffman, manager at Hoffman's Bakery, said he thought the ban had generally contributed to an improved environment. But, he said, "I know some people who just don't come downtown anymore because of the law" and that many visitors don't know the law.

Reference: Smoking cut drastically after Pacific Avenue ban by J.M. BROWN (Correspondent Rhiannon Corby contributed to this report), Santa Cruz Sentinel -, 8/24/2010.