Los Altos' expanded smoking ban goes into effect

Ashtray removal
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
City of Los Altos workers Matthew Grimes, left, and Colleen Rogan remove an ashtray receptacle downtown Thursday in the wake of the city’s new widespread smoking ban.

Anyone planning to take a cigarette break anywhere in public in Los Altos may now be in violation of the law.

A newly adopted Los Altos ordinance designed to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke by expanding smoke-free environments took effect April 27. The city council adopted the ordinance at its March 27 meeting.

The ordinance prohibits smoking in nearly all enclosed public places and many unenclosed public places. Public places are areas, publicly or privately owned, that are accessible by the public, whether by payment of money or not, and regardless of any age requirement.

The ordinance covers all types of smoking products, including tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaporizers and cannabis.

Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of all publicly accessible buildings as well as unenclosed areas such as parks, service areas, outdoor dining areas, entryways and exits, and at public events. Smoking also is banned downtown, except for areas in the public parking plazas, provided those areas are 25 feet or more from any building entry or window.

Violations of the ordinance could result in a citation of up to $200.

“I’d like to commend staff on the campaign to have information out, because I’ve been in a lot of stores in the last couple of weeks and in meetings, and I’ve seen the smoke-free Los Altos cards to help get the word out,” Councilwoman Mary Prochnow said in the wake of the ordinance’s passage.

The city of Los Altos is partnering with Breathe California of the Bay Area and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to continue to provide public outreach and education to local residents.

“We applaud this new city ordinance, which will help safeguard the health of residents as they enjoy public places,” said Dr. Sara Cody, county health officer and director of the Public Health Department. “We know that secondhand smoke causes disease and hope every city will extend protections to their residents by adopting smoke-free policies.”

Breathe California also operates a Secondhand Smoke Helpline (408-999-0500) residents can call to learn more about the ordinance and secondhand smoke, as well as to report a violation.

For more information, call management analyst fellow Sarah Henricks at 947-2729, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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