Long Beach Takes Same Step Closer to Allowing Smoking

If the Long Beach, California, city council keeps approving amendments to the city's strict antismoking law, a cigar might never legally be lit in this southern California town.

On Tuesday night, the governing body revised the ordinance it passed last week that would allow smoking in cigar lounges and formally expand the number of places in which one can smoke. But the change delayed the day when smoking can legally return to Long Beach.

The change reflected the council's acceptance of the recommendation and original language of the city attorney to allow smoking not only in cigar lounges, but also in hookah lounges and tobacco shops, as well as in other smoking lounges. The council also added a prohibition against the sale of food and drink in places where smoking was allowed.

The result of amending the previously approved revision is essentially to start over and delay by at least a week the implementation of the new ordinance. There are two readings and votes on each proposal before it can become law.

Assuming that the measure approved last night is passed as is at next week's city council meeting, it would go into effect 31 days after being signed by the mayor, presumably shortly after approval by the council.

Attempts to change the original antismoking ordinance have been vehemently opposed by antismoking forces in Long Beach. They have argued that the council is negating the will of the people by liberalizing the law. In 1993, the council passed an ordinance that banned smoking in public places. That was ratified a year later when the matter was placed on the ballot and received overwhelming voter approval.

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