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City deals with change

Businesses see mixed results from smoking ban. Officials say period of adjustment to new law was not unexpected.

September 01, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

DOWNTOWN — Ever since he started smoking, Thomas Kay has enjoyed a cigarette on the patio at this San Fernando Boulevard Starbucks. Now, in the wake of a recent City Council ordinance, if Kay lights up, he will have to pay up.

On April 30, the City Council adopted an ordinance banning smoking in various public places. Smoking is no longer allowed within 20 feet of all entrances, exits and open windows of buildings open to the public; all sidewalks and pedestrian areas of Downtown Burbank; outdoor dining areas; and, all lines in public places, such as movie theaters and ATMs, according to Michael Forbes, a Burbank senior planner who helped draft the ordinance.

Burbank Police began issuing fines on Aug. 5 of up to $400 to violators. More than 40 people have been ticketed this month, Deputy Chief Bill Taylor said.

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Though he has not been cited, Burbank resident Mike Carlson, 47, claims 20 of his friends have. Carlson sat outside Smokin’ Jack’s BBQ, on San Fernando Boulevard, with a pack of cigarettes in his pocket.

“I agree with not smoking in a restaurant, but as far as not allowing people to smoke on a sidewalk, it’s like prohibition,” he said. “I’m aware of where I can’t smoke now, and I can’t afford those tickets. But, I’m not going to stop.”

Inside Smokin’ Jack’s, Assistant Manager Victor Ohm struck another discordant tone.

“I want to take that sign down,” he said, referring to the rectangular sticker that warned “No smoking within 20 feet.” “They are finding any reason to fine people; people smoking in alleys, homeless people. It’s ridiculous.”

But not everyone was displeased with the ordinance. Down the street, at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, staff members were pleased with the new law.

“People don’t have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get inside the store anymore,” General Manager Matthew Dart said. “It’s good for business.”

The location experienced an initial 3% drop in sales, but profits have risen since, he said.

Other businesses, such as Market City Café, report no change.

“We have not seen a drop in customers. It has not affected our business,” Assistant Manager Nick Mukherji said.

On the other hand, Newsstand Etc., also on San Fernando, experienced a precipitous drop in sales as a direct result of the ordinance, according to store owner Gary Acizyan.

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