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By Dana Stevens, Executive Director, Community Action Service & Advocacy
January 21, 2020 (San Diego's East County) - Let’s embrace healthy living in 2020, as we head into San Diego’s 2020 Restaurant Week (January 19-26). Let’s dine at restaurants that offer smoke-free outdoor dining patios as well as healthy, fresh, delicious food.
The US Surgeon General reports (2006) that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and this exposure can have immediate health consequences, including eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as asthma attacks and breathing problems for people with chronic lung disease.
In San Diego, we are lucky to be able to eat al fresco all year round, but who wants to be exposed to drifting cigarette smoke and vape as we attempt to enjoy our food?
I applaud the cities in San Diego County that have prohibited smoking on restaurant patios and in other public spaces --Coronado, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Del Mar, El Cajon, La Mesa, National City, Solana Beach and Oceanside, and the other municipalities, such as the County of San Diego, that are considering adopting such policies. 
Local business and customers will both benefit from smoke-free dining patios. Research shows it’s a winning policy for everyone.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (2009), “Smoke-free policies do not have an adverse economic impact on the business activity of restaurants, bars, or establishments catering to tourists, with many studies finding a small positive effect of these policies.” 
In 2018, the American Lung Association’s Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing commissioned a survey of over 800 California voters about their attitudes toward smoke-free outdoor dining. They found strong support (72%) for restricting smoking in outdoor areas accessible to the public. And a 2019 survey of residents and frequent visitors to La Mesa found that 87% prefer an area where smoking is not allowed when eating outside. 
So we encourage you to get out and support your favorite, smoke-free al fresco dining! East County establishments participating in Restaurant Week that serve delectable foods and offer healthy outdoor environments for their patrons and staff are:
BO-Beau Kitchen & Garden, Casa de Pico, and Vine Cottage Bistro in La Mesa, and Giardino in Lemon Grove. Thank you for protecting visitors from secondhand smoke and vape and for creating pleasurable and healthy outdoor dining experiences for all of us!
The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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