Imperial City Council Approves Outdoor Smoke-free Ordinance

The new policy prohibits smoking in outdoor city-owned recreational and public event areas

December 20, 2023

Imperial, Calif. –  Today, the Imperial City Council passed a smoke-free ordinance to prohibit outdoor smoking in city-owned public events and recreational areas, such as spectator and concession areas, restrooms, parks, and playgrounds, among others. 

The new rules are a result of conversations between City Manager Dennis Morita, Council Member Ida Obeso-Martinez and volunteers from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Vidas Importantes Vecindarios Elevados (VIVE) project. Parents and members of the Imperial High School Interact Club provided comments at hearings urging council members to act.

“We commend the City Council for prioritizing public health and taking this key step to ensure everyone in Imperial can work, learn and play without being exposed to secondhand smoke, which, even outdoors, can cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions,” said Jen Grand-Lejano, ACS CAN government relations director.

“It’s hard to see my child struggle with continuous sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, and headaches while trying to enjoy the outdoors,” said Yissel Silva, a VIVE project volunteer. “My family has been forced to choose not to attend some outdoor community events because we know the presence of smoke can trigger an allergy attack and can cause other diseases in the long run. We’re thankful that, with strong implementation of this ordinance, Imperial families will be able to enjoy outdoor city events without fear of putting their health at risk”. 

Nearly 22% of cancer deaths in California are caused by smoking, and the state’s annual health care costs directly caused by smoking surpass $15 billion, with limited-income communities and people of color bearing the brunt.  

“Smoke-free policies play a pivotal role in reducing tobacco-related health disparities, helping to denormalize smoking, reducing the number of people – especially youth – who start smoking and supporting those trying to quit,” said Grand-Lejano.  

Free resources and services on quitting tobacco products can be found at in English and Spanish. For help in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese, visit

Imperial High School students hold posters advocating for a smoke-free ordinance before the City Council

More Press Releases AboutSmoke-free, Prevention and Cessation, California