San Francisco Gets Serious About Smoking Rules

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    This is illegal now in the city of San Francisco

    San Francisco officials unveiled an ad campaign today that they  hope will help residents understand newly extended smoking ban restrictions  taking effect this year.

          In March, the Board of Supervisors passed an extension of the  city's smoking ban that prohibits smoking in service lines, farmers markets,  apartment building and hotel common areas, taxicabs, and within 15 feet of  business entrances, vents and windows.
         
    Most of the changes took effect April 24, and beginning in  October, smoking in outdoor dining areas and smoke shops also will be  outlawed.
         
    Although the city will monitor compliance and issue fines to  repeat offenders, officials said at a news conference today the ordinance  will largely depend on self-regulation and need to be enforced by  communities.
         
    Officials therefore decided to roll out a new ad campaign, Smoke  Free San Francisco, in time for summer, Supervisor Eric Mar said.
         
    "Enforcement really depends on broad community awareness," he  said. "There aren't very strong penalties. This is one of the issues the  Department of Health has to grapple with."
         
    The Smoke Free SF ads are posted throughout the city at bus stops  and on San Francisco Municipal Railway vehicles. English, Spanish and Chinese  language versions all feature photos and lists of places where smoking is now  prohibited.
         
    Officials hope people will be able to point to the signs and start  a polite conversation if their neighbors are smoking illegally.
         
    "We can't police every bus stop, ATM, farmers market," said Mitch  Katz, San Francisco's director of public health. "What it requires is people  saying, 'Smoke is not allowed here.'"
         
    Katz said there is no "safe level" of second-hand smoke. The  carcinogens in cigarettes immediately affect artery width, and inhaling  second-hand smoke increases risk of heart attack for the next 10 minutes.
         
    After that window passes, second-hand smoke has a cumulative  effect and increases risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and asthma, Katz  said.
         
    A senior health inspector said businesses are also responsible for  enforcing the new restrictions. Eventually they will need to post new  signage, but the city will work them before taking punitive action, inspector  Janine Young said.
         
    "In the long term we will issue a notice of violation, but we will  work with you first," she said.
         
    Noncompliance could eventually lead to a $500 fine for businesses,  she said. Individuals who repeatedly smoke in prohibited areas could be  issued a $75 fine. Anyone who witnesses offenders can call 311, and the city  will send an inspector to the site.
         
    Youth leaders with the Chinese Progressive Association also  attended the news conference today and encouraged San Franciscans to help  enforce the ban, which the group worked for years to help pass.
         
    The youth surveyed more than 280 Chinatown families in 2008 and  found that more than 90 percent of the people they talked to would support a  stricter smoking ban.
         
    Goby Yu, an 18-year-old with the group, said her family had at  least three to five smokers.
         
    "I know that, due to language barriers, it's hard for people to  voice their opinions," she said of the Chinatown community. "We need to stand  up and protect their rights."