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Kids Help Snuff Out Smoking


By Lookout Staff

June 17, 2009 – Plenty of adults continue to defy Santa Monica’s smoking ban, so the City turned to kids to help spread the word.

On Tuesday, the City Council announced the winner of an art contest between 5th graders at Grant Elementary School as part of the official public launch of the City’s "Smoking Doesn’t Belong Here" campaign.

Aimed at raising awareness the smoking ban in the city’s public spaces, the campaign will feature the grand- prize-winning artwork by fifth-grader Lauren Fleck. The work was unveiled on the side of a Big Blue Bus servicing the city, and Fleck’s class was presented with a $500 donation.

Elementary fifth-grader Lauren Fleck with her winning artwork on the side of a Big Blue Bus. (Photos by Kurt Heim)

“It is great to see how creative and thoughtful our students can be,” said Mayor Genser. “I am inspired by their understanding that an individual's actions can have an effect on the entire community."

The more than 100 submissions from six local elementary schools were judged on “creativity, originality, neatness, clarity of written description, representation of description, skill level involved and adherence to rules,” City officials said.

“The entries depict the children’s artistic renditions of what living in a smoke-free city and world means to them,” officials said.

Contest judges included members of Santa Monica business and political organizations, including the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Bayside District Corporation and the California Arts Council.

Santa Monica Council member Richard Bloom and Grant Elementary fifth-grade teacher Shelly Smith present students with a $500 check.

“This campaign highlights the City’s storied outdoor culture and dramatizes how our clean air rules benefits everyone – from first-time visitors and long-time residents to elementary school students,” said Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky.

“Our goal is to educate the public on the locations of our smoke-free areas, while ensuring the collective enjoyment of the City’s public spaces,” Radinsky said.

In late 2007, the council passed laws banning smoking on the popular Third Street Promenade, the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park. It also barred smoking in outdoor common areas like bus stops, ATM lines, local beaches and 20 feet from the entrances of any public building.

The following year, the council extended the law to hold restaurant owners liable if they facilitate patrons in smoking in their outdoor dining and waiting areas. To date, more than 300 business tool kits have been distributed to area restaurants and businesses, Radinsky said.

“Law enforcement officials will be stepping up enforcement in all locations affected by the laws now that the word is out and the campaign is launched,” he said.

The 5th grade art contest is one of the final pieces the multifaceted public education campaign that was approved by council in February. The campaign also includes advertising, business informational sessions and materials to ensure a smooth transition into enforcement for the visitors, residents and businesses of Santa Monica.

The two dozen Downtown ambassadors, who hit the street this month, also are spreading the word. Bankrolled with $1.3 million in new property assessments, the ambassadors greet visitors, answer questions and generally point the way.

They also help keep an eye on the street to discourage wrongdoing and anti-social behavior.





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