It is about to get harder to smoke in Santa Clara County, at least in the unincorporated areas. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors passed a series of ordinances that increased restrictions on the sale and use of tobacco products in the county. The new ordinances had two purposes: to reduce the level of youth smoking, and protect all residents from second hand smoke.

One step toward reducing smoking among youth is the Tobacco Retailer Permits Ordinance. According to the new law, retailers selling tobacco in unincorporated areas my purchase an annual permit costing $425 per year. They must also pay a one-time application fee of $340. The new law also imposes restrictions on who might sell tobacco. Pharmacies, for instance, will not be allowed to sell tobacco. The real effort to curb youth smoking was the section that prohibits tobacco retailers from being located within 1,000 feet of a school, but it also prevents them from being within 500 feet of another retailer selling tobacco.

The Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance restricts where people who do smoke can light up. Included are all county parks and the County Fairgrounds, but also hotels and motels and even outdoor shopping malls or within 30 feet of any outdoor service area. In other words, if you are standing in line to buy tickets for a concert, you may not smoke, unless you step 30 feet away. In another blow to tobacco retailers, smoking is prohibited in stores that sell tobacco products exclusively.

The third ordinance, the Multi-unit Residences Ordinance, takes the ban on smoking one step further by prohibiting smoking in personal spaces. All new and renewed leases must include a clause prohibiting smoking indoors. But the ordinance also extends to privately owned spaces, prohibiting smoking in apartment buildings, condos, and even in duplexes. In that case, however, unit owners are allowed to designate a smoking area 30 feet from any doors or windows.

The new ordinances were introduced by Board President Ken Yeager and received the support of the County Health Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. They will only go into effect next month after they are read a second time and pass a second vote for approval. So if you are a smoker, you had better light up now. Chances are that by Thanksgiving, you will have a hard time finding a place to smoke after a heavy meal.
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