Puffing In Public Could Put a Strain on Your Wallet

New smoking ordinance wafting forward.

By Rebecca Baron
|  Thursday, Feb 23, 2012  |  Updated 6:27 AM PDT
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Morgan Hill making public smoking a paying offense.

AP

Smoking outdoors in Morgan Hill can cost you.

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If you smoke outside In Morgan Hill be prepared to cough up some cash.

According to the Morgan Hill Times, the city council voted Wednesday to move forward with an ordinance that prohibits smoking in outdoor public areas.

People who choose to puff anyway would have to pay $100 for their first offense. Break the rules twice and the fine would increase to $200. The third and subsequent offenses would cost $500.

So what exactly are the rules? No smoking at outdoor public recreation areas, service areas such as ATM lines and bus stops, and within 20 feet of any building entryway. Business owners would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance on or outside their properties, city staff said.

City leaders began gathering community input about an ordinance last year. A series of community meetings and a public survey indicated support for a new "secondhand smoke" ordinance.

When city staff started the ordinance outreach effort, they hoped to make use of grant funding available to pay for staff costs and educational material. The deadline to draft an ordinance and take advantage of the grant is March 2, and the city might not be able to make full use of the grant as they expected. However, the city is likely to be reimbursed for staff time expended so far, though the money for educational and awareness efforts may not be available.

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