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Death & Disease

Smokefree outdoor dining in California

Published Apr 11, 2022
Family at a restaurant

If you are dining outside at a restaurant, and someone is smoking a cigarette or using an electronic smoking device, you are being exposed to toxic secondhand smoke1 or aerosol.2 Sounds crazy, since smoking and vaping indoors in restaurants is banned by California law,3 but that only applies to indoor areas, not outdoors. While restaurants can choose to ban smoking in their outdoor seating areas, there is no state law that requires it. This leaves many Californians at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke and vape every day, during their meals.

More than 100 California cities have enacted Smokefree Outdoor Dining and Bar Patio laws,4 and Californians want more. Eighty-four percent of Californians, including 66 percent of smokers, prefer dining in a smokefree restaurant with outdoor dining areas.5

If restaurants haven’t offered a complete, smokefree experience yet, perhaps your community is considering one. If you prefer eating without toxic fumes, check to see if your city has a policy on smokefree outdoor dining. If smoking is allowed, consider contacting your local community leaders about enacting a ban or talk to your local restaurant owners about adopting a completely smokefree policy.

  1. Cameron M, Brennan E, Durkin S et al. Secondhand Smoke Exposure (PM2.5) in Outdoor Dining Areas and Its Correlates. Tobacco Control Journal. 2010;19:19-23.
  2. World Health Organization. Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS). 2016.
  3. California Legislative Information. Labor Code Section 6404.5. leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. 1973.
  4. The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing. List of Municipalities That Restrict, Smoking in Outdoor Dining Areas, 2019.
  5. California Department of Public Health. California Adult Tobacco Survey, 2018.

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