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Public Smoking in Santa Monica

October 18, 2017 9:40 AM
by Andrea Cavanaugh

Public Smoking in Santa Monica

Yuri was visiting Santa Monica recently and took a stroll down the Third Street Promenade. He paused for a moment to light up a cigarette, and exhaled a plume of smoke. Yuri was startled when another pedestrian tapped him on the shoulder and pointed at a nearby “No Smoking” sign. He hastily put out his cigarette and carried the butt to a nearby trash can. Yuri was surprised that he couldn’t smoke outside, but he wanted to obey the law and avoid bothering other visitors. Yuri had just gotten a crash course in Santa Monica’s smoking law.

Santa Monica has long been on the forefront of protecting residents and visitors from secondhand smoke. Twenty years ago it was the first city to prosecute bars for allowing patrons to smoke. Now, both smoking and vaping (e-cigarettes) are prohibited not only on the Third Street Promenade, but in most public places:

  • parks
  • beaches
  • the Santa Monica Pier
  • outdoor dining areas
  • farmer’s markets
  • Outdoor Service Areas (bus stops, ATMs, and anywhere else people wait for services)

It’s also unlawful to smoke or vape within 20 feet of doors or open windows of buildings that are open to the public. (This includes all businesses and basically all places other than private residences.) Smoking in these public areas is a criminal infraction, punishable by a $100 base fine plus penalties for the first offense; $200 base fine for the second offense within one year; and $500 base fine for all subsequent violations within one year. Santa Monica also prohibits smoking in common areas of all multi-unit housing (both apartments and condos), and inside units for all residents who moved in after November 22, 2012.

While marijuana is now legal in California, it’s still unlawful to smoke it in public, or anywhere else that tobacco is prohibited. Smoking marijuana in public is punishable by a $100 base fine, or a $250 base fine if it’s a place where tobacco smoking is forbidden. There are additional penalties for smoking pot within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers and youth centers while children are present, unless it’s in a private residence.

So where is it OK to smoke? There are still plenty of areas where smoking is allowed. These include sidewalks and other public places where it isn’t expressly prohibited – so long as it’s not within 20 feet of doors or open windows. It’s also allowed in single-family homes, and inside apartments or condos that were occupied before November 22, 2012 (unless the unit was designated as non-smoking).

If you have questions or need information about smoking laws in Santa Monica, please call the City Attorney’s Office at (310) 458-8336 or visit smconsumer.org.

This story was originally posted on the Santa Monica Daily Press.

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