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WeHo Butts Out: New Smoking Ban at Restaurants Takes Effect New Year's Day

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Smokers who enjoy lighting up with a drink or after a meal on the patio of West Hollywood restaurants are going to have to butt out for good starting Sunday, when a ban in such spaces goes into effect.

Some restaurants are "bracing for fallout from customers," reports West Hollywood Patch, who spoke with business owners and managers who are worried about how an estimated 10 to 50 per cent of their clientele will take to the new local law.

It will be up to the restaurants--and other customers--to enforce the law, however, according to Anne McIntosh, West Hollywood’s Community Development Director. She assures patrons there will be no "smoking police." Either the restaurant or the customer can notify the authorities, but McIntosh says if the smoker puts out the cigarette, the matter is resolved: " It is only if the person keeps smoking that he will get into legal trouble." Only the smoker is subject to fines, though if a restaurant is the site of numerous violations, the restaurant may face legal troubles.

Ready to be confused now? The ban only applies to restaurants. Businesses with nightclub licenses, or bars, are not subject to the ban. WeHo Patch offers this example: "people will still be able to smoke on the patio at Mickys in Boystown, because it has a nightclub license, but not next door on the patio at Fiesta Cantina, because it has a restaurant license." The city advises patrons to look for signs about the ban, or ask the business' staff if they may light up on the patio.

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Restaurants may opt to set up separate smoking areas, but they cannot serve food there, and it must be entirely separate from the rest of the dining area. Some restaurants may just send smoking patrons onto the sidewalk, where it is still legal to smoke, so long as it is at least five feet away.

Before you think this ruins your smoking and eating brunch plans for New Year's Day, you can still smoke 'em while you got 'em and are allowed: The ban goes into effect at 11 p.m. on January 1, 2012.