Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Laguna Beach Bans Smoking, Vaping, and Toking in Public

While southern California surf towns, like Laguna Beach, might be known for being full of hot air, liberal people, and progressive notions, there's no shortage of anti-tobacco sentiment. In fact, in May 2017, the city of Laguna Beach actually banned all smoking in all public places. Even outside a bar, late at night, after a few drinks. Even for vapers, e-cig users, marijuana smokers, and midnight tokers.

The Laguna Beach smoking ban prohibits an individual from smoking anywhere in the city except on their own private property and in their cars. A first offense can result in a $100 ticket, with subsequent offenses leading to an increased fine.

Laguna Beach Begins Busting Smokers

In addition to putting the ban in place, law enforcement officers in Laguna Beach have actually been enforcing the ban. When it was passed, the idea was that the law would not be enforced strictly, particularly in the weeks after it took effect. However, within 24 hours of it being implemented, citations were written, and anti-tobacco residents were calling in complaints to the police.

While some Lagunans may think the smoking ban was a good move for public health, there are many who feel that it is overreaching. Tobacco is a rather divisive issue since it is legal, yet medical research shows it is bad for one's health to use, and/or even just to be around.

Can a City Ban Smoking?

While it may seem like a grievous violation of an individual's rights, a city, county, town, and other government entity, can ban smoking in public places, including bars, restaurants, and even sidewalks.

Courts have refused to find that individuals have a fundamental right to smoke. Additionally, courts have regularly upheld smoking bans that are put into place to protect the health, safety, or welfare of a city's residents. Even though smoking is not a fundamental right, there's something that seems un-American about making it illegal to smoke on a sidewalk. Regardless, the fact remains that smoking bans have actually been effective in reducing the smoking population.

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