Those who want to smoke in public areas could face tighter restrictions under an amendment to Murrieta's smoking pollution code.
Smoking would be prohibited in all areas of city-owned parks and adjoining parking lots as well as city-owned open space recreation areas and trails. Under the current code, smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of children's play areas, athletic fields, skate parks and courts and sports arenas.
"This left some areas of the ordinance open to interpretation," said Debbie Tharp, Murrieta community services manager, in a staff report.
Those caught violating the current ordinance or the proposed amendments to it can be charged with an infraction, punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second offense within a year and $500 for any subsequent violations within a year.
The amended ordinance will be presented to City Council at its Tuesday meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at City Hall. In Tharp's report, she states that City Council gave staff direction to make the ordinance more inclusive of any areas in city parks.
Tharp cited a statement from California Environmental Protection Agency that said secondhand smoke exposure is estimated to be responsible for 202,000 asthma episodes and 790,000 doctor appointments for U.S. children with ear infections annually.
"Adoption of this ordinance will establish where children play in city facilities is smoke free," Tharp said.
The tighter restrictions mean more signs would go up at city parks as soon as the ordinance is voted on.
Murrieta is one of 145 cities in California that have adopted complete or partial bans of smoking in parks, Tharp said. Some of those cities include San Diego, San Bernardino, Del Mar, Oceanside, Corona, Redlands, Loma Linda, El Cajon, La Mesa and Temecula.