By Ted AYALA
The Glendale City Council agreed to reexamine the smoking ordinance passed at the Oct. 2 meeting. At that meeting, city council voted in favor of loosening smoking restrictions on outdoor dining areas. The three-tier system allowed outdoor dining areas with less than 2,000 feet to allot 25% of their space to smoking areas, 50% to areas with 2,000 to 5,000 feet, and 66% in any outdoor dining area exceeding 5,000 feet.
Input from citizens in the days following the decision persuaded council to revisit the issue at a later date.
Miguel Olivares, an outreach specialist for Glendale Adventist Medical Center, expressed his concern over the council’s decision.
He took on Councilman Ara Najarian’s disdain for anti-smoking measures, which he referred to last week as “legislating morality.”
“To us, it’s not a morality issue,” he said. “It’s a public health issue. The big difference here is that second-hand smoke is known and proven to cause serious harm to everyone around it.”
He also reminded the council that the “hospital and public are watching” their decision on the matter.
Esther Schiller, representing Smoke-free Air For Everyone, said that restaurants affected by the ordinance would need to be avoided by people who are already suffering from respiratory diseases.
“In addition, the wait staff at these establishments will be exposed to second-hand smoke on a daily and nightly basis,” she said. “So there will be potential for illnesses from the wait staff and filing of workman’s compensation claims, which can be very expensive.”
“The healthcare costs will be borne by us all,” she added. “It’s very disappointing to see the city moving backwards.”
The ordinance, as approved by council, is set to be implemented in three weeks.
Najarian addressed anti-smoking advocates by calling upon them to familiarize themselves with the ordinance and the changes made to it before criticizing it. He also cited smoking ordinances from Pasadena as a more reasonable model for the city to adhere to.