Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
Starring the Santa Monica City Council as the beach cigarette
is at it again.
Santa Monica City Council has passed a law that bans smoking
city’s historic, world-famous wooden
pier and all four miles of its beaches, threatening to turn “Baywatch” into “Buttwatch.” For
the record, I’m a lifelong non-smoker myself, but one who
believes in the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness, even when that happiness comes rolled up in paper
and is set on fire.
fanatics argue the habit deprives people of the aforementioned
life, that’s where liberty comes
in. It’s their choice. And before the scolds insist that
secondhand smoke threatens the lives of others, prove it. Studies
on the subject, taken as a whole, are inconclusive.
I go along with two cancer specialists at the chest diseases
unit of The London Health Sciences Center in London, Ontario,
Doctors Dildar Ahmad and W. Keith Morgan, who are skeptical of
purported dangers of secondhand smoke. While decrying smoking,
they criticize anti-smoking forces for rejecting truth and accepting
unproven hypotheses to further their concept of ethics or social
justice. To my unscientific mind it seems reasonable to believe
that carcinogenics that start to break apart the moment smoke
is released into the open air cannot have the same toxic effect
as when drawn directly into the lungs.
I don’t find smokers nearly as obnoxious as cell phone
users who consistently intrude on the enjoyment of public settings.
Given a choice between exposure to secondhand smoke and secondhand
conversation, I’ll take the former any time. While smokers
are satisfying the cravings of a habit difficult to break, and
often feel guilty while doing so, they are not, unlike certain
rude cell phone users, conspicuously indulging their habit in
public for the purpose of making themselves feel important.
operators on the Santa Monica Pier feel blindsided by the anti-smoking
law. It wasn’t until three days after
the City Council’s initial vote on the issue that businesses
were told the ban would include outdoor patios. Apparently mislead
into believing it would not, they failed to mount a campaign
against the anti-smoking forces.
of the Santa Monica Pier Lessees Association, Chris Volaski,
she doesn’t believe there are any tenants
who thought the smoking ban would be extended to outside patios.
Members of the Association are now fighting to have the issue
re-opened to give them an opportunity to contest it, but there
is probably more chance of an average Cuban getting permission
from Fidel Castro to go to Miami.
officials site the risk of fire on the wooden pier as one reason
smokers but Volaski, quoted in The
Santa Monica Mirror, said, “It has always been a wooden
pier.” Smoldering burns on the Pier have reportedly seen
a 20% decline since nine ashtrays were put in place, and these
are just 1/3 of the number of ashtrays the City said it would
install. When it comes to littering, Volaski contends that most
smokers “are respectful enough not to litter.”
As for the
wide-open spaces of the beach, the idea that people should
there is ludicrous. Yes, it’s more pleasant
to see a butt in a thong than a butt left over from a cigarette,
but surely the installation of additional trash cans and a public
education program should be tried before smokers have sand figuratively
kicked into their faces.
Angeles City Council voted to ban beach smoking Friday -- following
bans at San Clemente and Solana Beach -- Encinitas
has rejected it. Councilman Jerome Stocks said he found no evidence
that secondhand smoke is a danger outdoors, adding, “I’m
not ready to use the power of government to ban something because
it irritates me.”
What is someone with that much good sense doing in politics? CRO
2004 Doug Gamble