Eugene’s City Council voted 6-2 last night to adopt an ordinance expanding smokefree areas on public right-of-ways within the downtown core, with property owners having the option to opt out of the ordinance. The ordinance also includes an “opt-in” option for smoke-free properties outside of the downtown core to create smoke-free areas on the public right-of-way adjacent to their properties. The purpose of the ordinance is to promote community health by reducing the exposure and impacts of secondhand smoke and cigarette litter.
Cities including Ashland, Oregon, McMinville, Oregon, Boulder, Colorado, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Boise, Idaho, have passed ordinances creating smoke-free outdoor areas in their city centers and downtowns. In 2016, all City of Eugene parks and open spaces became smokefree. In January, 2017, Lane County acted to make all 73 county parks and open spaces smoke and tobacco-free.
Current City ordinances do not allow smoking within 10 feet of any public doorway or within 25 feet of the entrance to government buildings throughout Eugene. While these ordinances provide some level of protection from secondhand smoke indoors, they do not address outdoor smoking in high use pedestrian areas, such as sidewalks, alleys and public spaces in downtown.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, Oregon, and Lane County. Tobacco-related diseases kill approximately 7,000 Oregonians each year and nearly 700 people a year in Lane County alone. An additional 600 deaths are caused by secondhand smoke each year across the state. Medical expenses and lost wages due to tobacco-related disease and early death cost Lane County over $260 million a year, or $1,800 per household. Surveys indicate that 75 percent of Lane County residents believe it is important to be protected from secondhand smoke outdoors.
The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after being signed by the Mayor.