Contra Costa County Begins Effort to Enforce State Workplace Smoking Ban
An undercover officer yesterday began to inspect Contra Costa County bars, restaurants and night clubs as part of a state program developed to enforce the 1995 California Workplace Act, the state's workplace smoking ban, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Although cities and counties do not have to inspect local businesses, local governments that participate in the state program must submit "detailed information on compliance rates" to the state. Sixteen California cities and counties, including Contra Costa County, received funds from a $20 million grant provided by the state Department of Health Services to help "crack down" on violators of the smoking ban. The funds, issued in October, came from the state's share of the 1998 national tobacco settlement. Alameda, Napa and Sonoma counties and the cities of San Jose and Pittsburg also plan to participate in the state program and track the rate of compliance with the smoking ban. "Local businesses have had ample notice about this law and the importance of protecting workers from the lethal impact of secondhand smoke," Denice Dennis, manager of the Tobacco Prevention Project in Contra Costa County, said. Some cities, such as Oakland, Newark and Hayward, have spent their own funds to enforce the smoking ban and could use state funds to "strengthen existing programs," Marla Blagg, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department's Tobacco Control Program, said. Violators of the smoking ban will receive fines that begin at $100 but could become as large as $2,000 per violation per day "if authorities feel a business is deliberately defying the law," the Chronicle reports. Reports submitted last year to the California Smoke Free Bars, Workplaces and Communities Program, a statewide program established by the American Lung Association to help enforce the smoking ban, indicated a 90% compliance rate in restaurant-bar establishments and a 70% compliance rate in bars statewide (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.