Starbucks smoking policy bans smoking outside cafes

Starbucks smoking: Starbucks announced customers will no longer be permitted to smoke in outdoor seating areas, or within 25 feet of the door. 

Eric Risberg/AP
A Starbucks Coffee store on the Embarcadero in San Francisco in April 2012. Starbucks is banning smoking within 25 feet of its stores, and in outdoor seating areas.

Starbucks customers will soon have to stamp out their cigarettes before approaching the cafes.

The Seattle-based chain says it will start banning smoking within 25 feet of its stores, beginning Saturday, where permitted by its leases. Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Lynn Riley says the intent is to expand the indoor no-smoking policy to the outdoor seating areas.

"If there were any concerns, we would hope to resolve it amicably." Riley said, referring to a customer who might be smoking within the restricted area.

The rule will apply to the 7,000 cafes owned and operated by Starbucks Corp., regardless of whether they have outdoor seating areas. The policy shouldn't cause a big difference in many areas that already ban smoking within a certain distance of a business entrance, or cities that have banned smoking in public places. 

Smoking in outdoor public places has been banned in New York City since 2011, when lawmakers voted to ban it in public parks, public beaches, and even Times Square.

“It is in line with making more livable communities and helping insure that these green spaces dedicated to active living be smoke free,” says Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights in Berkeley, Calif. The rationale for making the beaches smoke-free, he says, is to prevent pollution.

The Big Apple adopted laws that were tougher than its home state's. Such laws are a boon to public health and reduce litter in urban parks, say supporters. Critics say they are yet another instance of "big government" encroachment on personal freedoms and are almost impossible to enforce.

In all, almost 500 cities, counties, and towns have banned smoking in public parks. 

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