Survey supports downtown smoking limits
Of 378 respondents, about 42 percent said they would shop and dine downtown with greater frequency if tobacco use was prohibited. A like percentage said it wouldn’t affect their downtown activity either way and the remaining 16 percent said they would visit less frequently.
The latter matched the share of smokers — 59, or 16 percent. However, the correlation wasn’t perfect, as some smokers expressed support for a ban while some non-smokers expressed opposition.
About one-third of 38 responding businesses said they felt a smoking ban would boost traffic. Eight percent felt it would diminish traffic, 5 percent expressed ambivalence and the rest felt it would not have a significant impact.
Thirty-two of the 38 businesses, or 84 percent, reported employees or customers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Seventeen said people smoked in front of their premises on a daily basis and 10 others said it they did so one to five times a week.
MDA Manager Cassie Sollars said she was surprised to see how much support was expressed by individuals and businesses for making at least part of the downtown area smoke-free, if not all.
She said the next step would be creation of a committee of six to eight interested individuals to hammer out terms of a proposed policy on the subject. She said it would keep the city council apprised of its direction and progress.
Sollars noted the Oregon Smokefree Workplace Law already prohibits smoking within 10 feet of “entrances, exits, windows that open and ventilation intakes of workplaces or public places.” While that could be construed to cover much of downtown McMinnville, she said, “Our feeling is that it needs to be more defined.”
She noted the council had just extended a ban on smoking in Upper City Park to include Lower City Park as well, and had commissioned a staff report on potential extension of the the ban to the rest of the city’s park system, if not all city-owned property. She said that made discussion of a possible downtown ban timely.
The California city of San Luis Obispo enacted an ordinance four years ago that bans smoking in all outdoor areas where the public may be present. In recognition of that, it has adopted the tourism slogan, “Breathe easy ... you’re in San Luis Obispo.”
Sollars said no city in Oregon has yet gone that far, but a number are moving to adopt broader restrictions.