L.A. may ban taxi drivers from smoking in cabs, even while off duty

Photo by John Schreiber.

Cab drivers would not be allowed to smoke in their taxis at any time, even when passengers are not around, under a proposed rule to be considered by a city commission Thursday.

Managers of taxicab companies recently asked city transportation officials to tighten up rules around smoking in taxis, as a way to improve their competitiveness with “alternative” ride providers.

The owners complained that taxi drivers who smoke in between picking up passengers often leave an unpleasant, “ashtray-type” smell in the cars that could put off potential customers.

“The prospect of experiencing a foul-smelling vehicle interior decreases the overall desirability of hiring a taxicab for many passengers, thereby harming the competitiveness of the taxicab industry with alternative transportation providers,” Transportation Department General Manager Seleta Reynolds wrote in a report to the commission.

The city currently allows drivers to smoke in their taxis if they have their passengers’ consent. The proposed rule would be modeled after one in Beverly Hills that prohibits cabbies from smoking “at all times.”

The proposed rule would bar not only tobacco, but also e-cigarette smoking.

If the board tentatively approves the proposal, the public would be given a chance to read about it and make comments a final vote is taken.

City News Service