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San Francisco suburb bans outdoor smoking

BELMONT Calif. The City Council of this San Francisco suburb voted Tuesday to ban smoking as of 2009 in outdoor cafes and the public areas outside of restaurants, virtually denying patrons an opportunity to light up once they leave their cars.

Described as one of the strictest smoking bans in the nation, the measure also outlaws smoking in multi-unit dwellings and many public places, including parks. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that even on-stage actors portraying smokers would be prohibited from wielding a lit cigarette unless smoking is an “integral part” of the story.

The same story quotes Loring De Martini, proprietor of a local restaurant called The Van’s, as saying he expects business to drop about 15 percent because of the ban.

Belmont joins a small but growing list of California municipalities that have banned smoking in restaurants’ outdoor seating areas. Santa Monica, where such a prohibition already is in effect, is reportedly considering the levy of fines on restaurants where patrons smoke while dining al fresco, in addition to fines on the customers.

Belmont’s measure, approved by a 3-2 vote, would fine solely the smokers, in amounts of up to $1,000.

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