Frequently Asked Questions About the Smoking Ordinance

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What does the new smoking ordinance prohibit?
Starting January 1, 2012, the amended smoking ordinance prohibits anyone from smoking within five (5) feet of outdoor dining areas including restaurant patios, cafes and food courts, and outdoor common areas within the City of West Hollywood.

smoking ordinance signWhen does the smoking ordinance go into effect?
The smoking ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2012.

What is the purpose of the new ordinance?
The purpose of the new ordinance is to address three areas: 

  1. It protects patrons and workers from the dangerous health effects of secondhand smoke.
  2. It reduces places where young people can be exposed to smoking behavior.
  3. It expands the public space where smokers who are trying to quit are not exposed to other smokers.

What is secondhand smoke and why is it dangerous?
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke exposes smokers and nonsmokers to more than 4,000 toxic substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans and animals.

The U.S. Surgeon General says there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is toxic and causes cancer, heart disease, adult and childhood asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

How does this ordinance affect patrons?
Starting January 1, 2012, patrons are no longer allowed to smoke within five (5) feet of outdoor dining areas and outdoor service areas such as ATM lines, information kiosks, banks, restaurants and other food service, tickets and admission to a theater or other venue, car washes, vehicle service establishments as well as valet parking pick-up areas.

If I see someone smoking in an Outdoor Dining area, what should I do?
If you feel comfortable approaching the smoker yourself, you may notify the smoker that he or she is violating the law and ask them to stop or leave the area. If the person is smoking in a prohibited area, you may notify an employee of the business. Businesses are required to enforce the smoking prohibition in areas under their control and can be cited if they knowingly allow smoking in a prohibited area.

If the smoker refuses to stop or leave, or you see that a business continuously allows patrons to smoke in prohibited areas you may call the City of West Hollywood Code Compliance Division to report the incident at (323) 848-6516. Code compliance will field complaints through the City’s hotline from patrons or employees. The City will keep records to determine whether businesses consistently allow or encourage smoking to occur.

How will it affect my business?
Starting January 1, 2012, Ordinance No. 11-863 requires that any business with an open air dining area or outdoor service area where smoking will be prohibited by this ordinance shall post permanent signs required pursuant to West Hollywood Municipal Code Section 7.08.040. Businesses are required to request that patrons not smoke within five feet of outdoor dining areas and outdoor service areas.

Any business required to submit a smoking operations plan to the City shall submit such a plan for review and approval by October 1, 2011.

Type of Business  Is My Business Exempt?  What Do I Need to Know?  What Do I Need To Do? 
 Bars  YES  

1) Verify that your business is licensed to operate as a bar. 

2) Submit a Smoking Operation Plan to the City

 Nightclubs  YES  

1) Verify that your business is licensed to operate as a nightclub. 

2) Submit a Smoking Operation Plan to the City

 Hookah Cafes  YES  Hookah cafes must have been in operation as of February 7, 2011 Submit a Smoking Operation Plan to the City
 Private Membership Clubs  YES  Private membership clubs existing as of February 7, 2011.

1) Verify that your business qualifies as a private membership club 

2) Submit a Smoking Operation Plan to the City

 Restaurants  NO

Option 1:
Become 100% smoke-free

Option 2:
Some restaurants may have the option of designating a smoking only area if the following conditions are met:

1) Must meet a minimum 5 foot buffer requirement.
2) No meals may be served in the smoking designated area.
3) No minors present (Under 18)

Option 3:
A business may choose to update its operating permits to reflect desired business operations by January 1, 2012

Option 1: 
1) Verify that your business is licensed to operate as a restaurant and 
2) Post required signage

Option 2:
Submit a Smoking Operations Plan

Option 3: 
1) Update business license

2) Must apply for a CUP

What is a Smoking Operations Plan?
A Smoking Operations Plan is a document submitted to the Planning Department for approval that outlines areas of your establishment where smoking will take place as allowed under the ordinance. Any business that will continue to allow smoking must submit a plan.

Do businesses have to post any signs?
Yes. Businesses are responsible for posting signs in specified locations (sample sign provided here). Signs not less than eight inches by ten inches in size stating “No Smoking” with letters not less than one inch in height and including the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a diagonal red bar) shall be clearly, sufficiently and conspicuously posted by the owner, operator, manager or other person having control of every room, building or other place where smoking is regulated by this chapter either: (a) on a wall not less than eight feet nor more than ten feet above floor level; or (b) on moveable freestanding signs between three feet and five feet in height. In rooms containing tables for patrons or customers, an additional sign not less than four inches by six inches in size containing the same message in the same size lettering shall be placed on each table. Each of the foregoing signs shall, in addition, include a reference to “Chapter 7.08 of the West Hollywood Municipal Code,” and include a telephone number designated by the city to which complaints of violations of this chapter may be reported.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?
The City will monitor businesses that receive frequent complaints (i.e., no signage posted; ashtrays on tables; or documentation that employees are not warning people that smoking is prohibited) and cite violators as necessary.

A violation of this Chapter shall be subject to the administrative penalty provisions of Sections 1.08.030 through 1.08.070 of the West Hollywood Municipal Code.