Businesses weigh in on more smoke-free zones in downtown Eugene

With this new proposal, smoking would not be allowed in public spaces like sidewalks, alleys, and plazas in the downtown core.

Posted: Jul 16, 2018 8:05 AM
Updated: Jul 16, 2018 12:10 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene City Council will hold a public hearing Monday evening, as they consider expanding smoke-free areas in Eugene's downtown core. 

Currently, city ordinances do not allow smoking within 10 feet of any public doorway, or within 25 feet of entrances to city government buildings.

With this new proposal, smoking would not be allowed in public spaces like sidewalks, alleys, and plazas in the designated area, which runs from West 8th Avenue to West 11th Avenue and Lincoln Street to Pearl Street.

It would allow properties in the core to opt-out and create designated smoking areas and would let properties outside of the downtown core opt-in to create smoke-free areas on the public-right-of-way adjacent to their properties.

The goal of the ordinance is to reduce tobacco use and prevent second-hand smoke exposure. City staff said nearly 700 people a year die from tobacco-related diseases in Lane County.

Shawn Difiore, owner of Cowfish in downtown Eugene, said there are more pressing issues the city council should focus on. 

"It's way over the top. It's not where I would like to see our city government focus their energy and resources. I mean we have a lot bigger problems," Difiore said. "To be regulating people smoking cigarettes on the streets is completely absurd to me."

Joshua Rodriguez, owner of Pizza My Cart, echoed Difiore and said there are other issues, like homelessness, that impact businesses and the overall experience downtown more than smoking does.  

Meanwhile, some businesses said this ordinance could be beneficial. 

"It is potentially going to clean up Eugene a little bit," said Elijha Marpet, an employee at Nourish.  "There are definitely a lot of people smoking cigarettes in Eugene and I think it might be beneficial to the air quality."

He used to live in Santa Cruz and said after they did something comparable, it significantly improved the area. 

With numerous markets and events downtown, Cameron Wick, the business partner for Dominican Delights said, "overall, [it would] benefit a lot of businesses  just by having a more inclusive and welcoming environment." 

The public hearing will be held at Harris Hall at 7:30 p.m.

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