Burlingame expands smoking restrictions in public areas; e-cigarettes not included 

click to enlarge A recently amended ordinance in Burlingame extends smoking restrictions to public areas including certain parks, certain trails and city-maintained parking facilities.
  • A recently amended ordinance in Burlingame extends smoking restrictions to public areas including certain parks, certain trails and city-maintained parking facilities.

Burlingame recently made more of its public areas smoke-free after the City Council approved an ordinance that expands tobacco-smoking restrictions to certain parks, certain trails and city-maintained parking facilities.

"Some of the areas in the new ban, like Mills Canyon, are at high risk of wildfires," City Attorney Kathleen Kane explained. "Anything [we can do] to mitigate that danger."

Some of the other newly smoke-free areas under the ordinance are frequented by children, who were potentially being exposed to secondhand smoke, city officials said. City parking lots were added to the restricted areas due to the presence of excessive toxins and cigarette butts in the stormwater runoff, Kane said.

The ban, however, includes only traditional cigarettes, and nothing is on the books in Burlingame so far to cover electronic-cigarette smoking in public areas.

Burlingame Vice Mayor Terry Nagel said that the city plans to follow San Mateo County's lead when it comes to implementing e-cigarette restrictions.

"We have used the approach of adopting county ordinances for banning Styrofoam and plastic bags and found it's much easier than starting from scratch," Nagel said.

San Mateo County Health System officials are "very actively putting together an ordinance" targeting e-cigarettes, county Supervisor Dave Pine noted.

"I anticipate that a proposal will be brought forward by our health department that would treat e-cigarettes just like regular cigarettes."

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors this year approved an ordinance prohibiting e-cigarette smoking in areas where traditional cigarettes are already not allowed, such as in city buildings, restaurants and bars.

The other issue yet to be addressed in Burlingame is that of prohibiting smoking in private residences, specifically in multi-unit apartment buildings.

"Some residents have asked us for it," Kane said. "It's already prohibited in common areas, but some people have requested it be banned in private units" because of secondhand smoke concerns. Kane said Burlingame would follow in the county's footsteps on the apartment smoking issue as well.

Some Peninsula cities, such as Belmont, have taken a more aggressive stance and banned cigarettes in individual apartment units, Kane said. According to Pine, county officials intend to treat the issue more aggressively as well.

The Board of Supervisors is currently considering a proposal for an ordinance banning smoking in apartments and condos in county communities, Pine said.

"Smoking would be prohibited in all the units," he said. "The proposal is aimed at covering both apartments and condominiums."

Pine added that he expects to see a proposal from the county health department addressing e-cigarette smoking by the year's end.

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Emilie Mutert

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