On Tuesday night, the La Mesa City Council unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance that will completely ban smoking in public places, except for cigar bars and the outdoor patios of establishments such as bars that are limited to those over 21-years-old.
While the bill is seen as a big win for anti-tobacco advocates in the San Diego suburb, it is also a win for one cigar bar in particular, Hoffer’s Cigar Bar. Initially, the ordinance contained no exemptions whatsoever, yet after pushback from a number of business owners, including Hoffer’s owner, Phil Hoffman, the exemption was included. Hoffman had told several media outlets that he feared that the ban was approved without the ordinance.
There is also an exemption for a portion of hotel or motel rooms within an individual property, as well as for private smokers’ lounges, including hookah bars.
The ordinance must still come back for a second reading and vote, which is currently scheduled for Jan. 28. If approved, it will go into effect 60 days after adoption to allow for a transitional period, during which the city will inform residents and businesses of the ban.
La Mesa is home to approximately 60,000 residents and is located nine miles east of downtown San Diego.