Cigar Aficionado

No Surprise: L.A. Bans Outdoor Restaurant Smoking

As expected, the city council of Los Angeles voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban smoking on restaurant outdoor patios. California law already bars indoor smoking in restaurants and bars.

The new restrictions will go into effect 30 days after it is signed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, which could happen this week. The provision offers a one-year grace period to restaurants to comply with the ordinance. The maximum fine for violating the provision will be $250. The measure will basically be self-enforced, explained council staffers, "just like the indoor smoking ban."

The restrictions apply to all dining establishments in Los Angeles, adding to the list of Southern California municipalities in which finding a place to enjoy a cigar has become more challenging. Essentially, the new regulations prohibit smoking within 10 feet of the entrance to a restaurant's front door and dining areas. The law also bans smoking within 40 feet of the growing number of food trucks roaming the city streets, as well as food courts and kiosks.

The ordinance, though, does include some exemptions that were the result of a lobbying campaign spearheaded by Cigar Rights of America. The policy exempts cigar lounges and private functions. Also, restaurants that are able to become an after-hours lounge or bar via their City permit can allow outdoor smoking as long as all patrons are 18 years or older.

"While we understand the council's need to act on this issue, we wanted to make sure that council members understood how this is an infringement of personal freedom—not to mention the devastating business impacts and implications on retail and restaurant owners across Los Angeles," said Brian Berman, CRA's director of membership, who is based in Los Angeles.

To find places in California, and elsewhere, where you can smoke, visit Cigar Bar Central.