If you dine out and are followers of the local foodie scene, you may be surprised to learn that there is nothing to prevent your dining experience from being affected by second-hand smoke coming in from an outside source. I, too, was surprised to learn this when researching an ongoing problem with nuisance smoking stemming from an establishment on Lincoln Avenue.
When I contacted the fire chief who in turn directed me to the city's code enforcement department, I was informed that CMC 8.28.030 Prohibited Smoking in Public Places does not control the drifting of second-hand smoke and such an incident is not considered a code violation. Imagine that you are sitting inside a local restaurant with a screened window open or in an al fresco dining section and someone is smoking directly outside, with the odor wafting over your table. According to city officials, there is no regulation applicable to the Calistoga Municipal Code, in California smoke-free air laws, or in the California Health and Safety Code that prohibits smoking on a public property sidewalk around a restaurant.
While many cities have adopted more restrictive smoking ordinances, it is curious that Calistoga does not have them in light of town's reputation for healthy living and the area's embodiment of that pursuit. I don't think anyone that is a non-smoker wants to be exposed to second-hand smoke, particularly when people are not able to avoid it due to the inconsiderate actions of others. For a town that prides itself on its clean air and a bucolic setting and lifestyle, Calistoga should be progressive in setting an example of what can be done for making a visit a more pleasant experience.
When I recently contacted Mayor Chris Canning about this situation that affects eateries and restaurateurs in particular, he was receptive and stated "At the end of the day, the city may need to explore a potential smoking ordinance preventing it from happening near entrances. This will only occur if we receive requests from residents or business owners to do so".
I was also informed that there is a movement in Napa County working on passing non-smoking ordinances in Napa. As it stands now, while smoking is prohibited inside restaurants, there are no specifications to smoking in current the Calistoga Municipal Code for the exterior of eateries. So my main question is: "What is Calistoga waiting for?". Shouldn't residents and visitors alike have a pleasant dining experience devoid of second-hand smoke from exterior sources as well?
If anyone reading this letter wants to take the initiative and make your concern and position known, I highly encourage you to also contact city officials at city hall and state your opinion. I believe it would be to the public's overall benefit to have the city pass an ordinance that stipulates a certain smoke-free perimeter zone from the exterior of restaurants, but more than one voice has to be heard to make this happen. The opportunity is there, so "carpe diem." If anyone is interested in more information about this situation, I can be reached at email@example.com. Thank you.
Ronald (and Charlotte) Gill