Board passes far-reaching smoking ordinance

VENTURA, Calif. – The Board of Supervisors passed far-reaching changes to the County’s smoking regulations at their January 10, 2017 meeting. The new ordinance will be known as the Ventura County Comprehensive Smoke-Free Ordinance and it prohibits smoking in the unincorporated areas of the county and at nearly all County-owned and operated buildings, campuses and properties.

“Strengthening our smoking ordinance is an extension of our commitment to the good health and well-being of the residents we serve,” said Rigoberto Vargas, Public Health Director. “Banning smoking in many outdoor areas is in alignment with our Health in All Policies framework. Smoke-free air is an important component of a healthy community.”

In addition to the ban at County properties, the ordinance prohibits smoking in dining areas, entryways, recreation areas (except golf courses), service areas, public events and outdoor worksites. The definition of smoking includes tobacco products, e-cigarettes and marijuana.

The ordinance also requires the Public Health Department to conduct an ongoing educational effort to inform the public about the purpose and requirements of the ordinance, and to conduct an educational campaign for the public about the harmful effects of smoking. Part of that campaign will be assistance for those wishing to stop smoking.

Although the ordinance will allow the County Executive Officer or Public Health Director to designate smoking areas on County campuses where a ban might result in operational challenges, the goal is to keep County buildings and campuses smoke-free so that employees and anyone seeking County services will not be exposed to second-hand smoke.

The Board passed the item on a 4-1 vote with Supervisor Parks casting the dissenting vote. The ordinance will become operative 180 days after its effective date.

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