A Cambridge ordinance banning smoking in public areas took effect yesterday and there were no complaints lodged against smokers violating the law, city officials said.
"We received a number of calls from businesses seeking help answering questions, but received no complaints of unwillingness to comply with the new laws," said Commissioner of Health and Hospitals Dr. Melvin H. Chalfen '50, who is responsible for enforcing the new ordinance, one of the strictest in the country.
City officials said that although Cambridge will investigate any complaint about violations of the law, enforcement will be left up to the owners of each building that falls under the ban.
At Harvard, which must ban smoking in lecture halls, House common rooms, libraries, hallways, other public areas, and private offices that share air vents, the ban was heralded with the posting of thousands of signs across campus. House dining halls will permit smoking only in designated areas, but five plan to enforce the ban completely. Dudley House, Eliot, Kirkland, North and Winthrop will not allow smoking.
City Councilor David Sullivan, a co-sponsor of the bill, said he feared Harvard had not completely prepared the University community for the ordinance by not issuing campus-wide rules for compliance.
"We gave them 90 days; it seems to have been enough for every other business in the city," he said.
Other city councilors expressed satisfaction with Harvard's reaction to the ban.
Mayor Walter Sullivan, who smokes and voted against the ordinance said, "Harvard is enforcing it really. They went overboard in my estimation."
Smoking members of the Cambridge City Council were grinning and bearing the new ordinance, although Councilor Alfred E. Vellucci said, "I know a lot of people who drink heavy whiskey and are destroying their livers, who want to tell other people not to smoke."
Cambridge yesterday formally instituted a mechanism to enforce the new law, officials said.
The Health Commissioner's office will investigate complaints, acting with the assistance of the police and the city manager, said Chalfen, adding that he expected few enforcement problems. "People have demonstrated that they want to work in compliance with the ordinance."
In answer to each complaint, he said his office will "bring the issue up with the responsible people at the particular business and if that does not work we will examine their policy and help them come to a resolution."
The commissioner's office will also "conduct systematic inspection of privatebusinesses to make sure they have adhered to thelaw," Chalfen said. The random checks will be madetwice a year, according to city officials.
At Harvard, administrators have left complianceup to individual departments on campus instead ofsetting University-wide rules.
Employees in academic departments contactedyesterday said they are not yet sure how toenforce the ordinance or who will be charged withthat duty, but they said that they anticipate fewproblems.