That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. There is a lesser known war raging on throughout America – The War on Smoking.
In California, people who chose to smoke haven’t been able to smoke in public establishments for some time now. First to go, as I recall, was the smoking sections in restaurants. This was just as well in my opinion because I remember going to dinner when I was little, being on the complete other end of the restaurant from the smoking section, and still getting headaches from the smoke.
Next to go was smoking in bars. I think this is stupid for really no other reason than when one goes to a bar, they are already (in most cases) intending to ingest harmful substances anyways, a little second-hand smoke isn’t going to suddenly be a show-stopper.
Many establishments have limitations on how close a smoker can be to the entrance. Apparently if you stand outside of a painted yellow box around the entrance, wind does not cross that line either.
Recently, two cities in Sonoma County have banned smoking – Healdsburg and Windsor. Both have banned smoking outdoors in their downtown plaza areas.
I can see this argument from both sides. I’ve never considered myself a “smoker” but I have had a few packs during my life. I’ve never liked the smell of cigarettes – that pungent funk that you can’t seem to scrub out of your hands. I know all too well the headaches that some can get as a result of the smoke. And then there are the health risks of second-hand smoke.
But I can also understand how a smoker may feel. Yes, they know it’s not the healthiest thing for them to do to occupy their attention. Laws have been passed that have gradually kicked them out of one facet of life after another. They pay up the wazoo in taxes for their packs. Many smokers, that I’ve encountered, are very courteous and will walk away from a family with little kids who needs to stand next to them (ie: in line at the theater, at a street market, etc). Smokers aren’t dumb – they know not every likes the smell of their habit.
That being said, Santa Rosa, the city I’ve grown up in, is now proposing an outdoors smoking ban. Beginning January 1st, smokers would be prohibited from smoking in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square, city-owned athletic fields, picnic areas and barbecues, Bennett Valley Golf Course and outside any businesses that serve food or alcohol. For those that aren’t familiar with the city, Old Courthouse Square is the hub upon which our downtown revolves. It’s where most major events are held: rallies, farmer’s markets, bike races, festivals, and so forth. One cannot simply walk across the street to puff away because, you guessed it, the streets are lined with restaurants and bars that serve alcohol, so no smoking there! On the first offence a smoker would be fined $100. $250 for the second offense.
This proposal is asinine! I urge any residents of the area to call or write the council members and tell them how daft this proposal is – specifically contact Lee Pierce (who initiated the proposal), as well as supporters Janet Condron and John Sawyer. Lawmakers have done such a good job of protecting us from ourselves that we as a society no longer know how to engage our brains and make our own decisions. I elect we all act maturely and look after ourselves. If someone’s smoking is bothering me, I have the freedom to move my non-smoking ass somewhere else.
Discrimination is discrimination any way you try to justify it. America is a free county and it’s unreasonable for me to expect to have everything my way when I venture out into society. What’s next? Rounding up all the rambling homeless people and put bullets through their heads because some people simply don’t like their presence?