The West Hollywood Outdoor Smoking Task Force met again last Friday, and it seems that West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman and Councilwoman Abbe Land, who first proposed an outdoor smoking ban at bars and nightclubs, are pushing behind the scenes for any kind of anti-smoking law.
At last week's meeting, according to WeHo News, task force members, who include bars owners and city officials, decided to create an outdoor smoking ban that would focus on establishments that serve minors under the age of 18.
Which is kind of funny -- only 6.4 percent of West Hollywood's nearly 36,000 residents are under the age of 19, with 88 percent 25 years old or older, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
It also brings up the question if the world-famous Abbey on Robertson Boulevard will somehow be dinged by the under-18 proposal -- during the day, kids are often seen eating lunch or a late breakfast with their parents after spending a few hours at nearby West Hollywood Park.
Will there be a smoking ban during the day at the Abbey, but people can light up at night? Or will kids end up being banned from the Abbey so it's not a target of a smoking ban?
All of these questions and more are still being hashed out by the outdoor smoking task force.
The proposed ban is widely unpopular with bar and nightclubs owners, who talked about their displeasure in the L.A. Weekly cover story "West Follywood."
But Land and Heilman seem determined to put some kind of outdoor anti-smoking law on the books so West Hollywood can maintain its image as a cutting-edge city that's on the forefront of all sorts hot button issues -- Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, for example, have already passed outdoor smoking bans.
The only problem, critics of the ban like to point out, is that West Hollywood relies on tax revenue from the city's nightlife to pay for social services and other things. An outdoor smoking ban, they say, would hurt the bottom line of bars and nightclubs, which would then hurt the city's bottom line.
Voters will have a say about the way the outdoor smoking is handled next year, when Heilman and Land are up for re-election.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.