The Slippery Slope of the Nanny State

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Before I start: I don’t smoke cigarettes; however, I do enjoy an occasional (OK, frequent) cigar.  OK?

OK. Years ago, Newport Beach declared that you can’t smoke on the beach, oceanfront walk and piers, or within 25 feet of a playground or 20 feet of a community center.

Then they tried to ban smoking on the open patios of local restaurants, but realized it’s too difficult to regulate private businesses … at this time …

So they went back to the public areas and are now trying to ban smoking in parks and “open areas,” which are areas that are … open to the world, like hiking trails, the Back Bay or Buck Gully.

Ironically, “republican” (small “r” is intentional) Mayor Mike Henn also suggested creating a setback/buffer just inland from the beach where you can’t smoke, either, edging the smoking ban onto the public sidewalks, too.

Unfortunately, the majority of the City Council supports this additional smoking ban, and considering that Six of the Seven are Republicans, that means that there are “republicans” (again, small “r”) who are enjoying straddling that line between Nanny States and Personal Freedoms … making it very possible that smoking on the beaches, parks, boardwalks, Back Bay, and sidewalks close to the beaches and boardwalks will soon be illegal.

Pretty soon, at the rate these “republicans” are trying to take our Personal Freedoms, it’ll be illegal to smoke on ALL sidewalks, then public streets, then on open patios (restaurants, businesses, homes), then even within your own home, if your windows are open …

Think this couldn’t happen?  Think I’m exaggerating? Only in Communist cities like New York City of San Francisco?

How about a few miles away from Newport Beach, in Laguna Woods?

Back in 2004, Laguna Woods made it illegal to smoke in enclosed and unenclosed public areas.

Then in 2006, Laguna Woods made it illegal to smoke in shared carports, and entryways in multifamily residential buildings.

Then earlier this year, Laguna Woods made it illegal to smoke on ALL patios (open and enclosed) and balconies of PRIVATE residences.

Although Laguna Woods’ residents could still smoke on their enclosed patio, if all the windows and doors are closed.

The best part of their ordinance?

Violations would not need to be witnessed by a code enforcement officer for citations to be issued. Instead, the ordinance would allow the city to issue citations “upon receipt of complaints from more than one individual and following a warning and education process,” and although anonymous complaints could be made, citations would be issued only if they were corroborated by non-anonymous complaints.

Neighbor watching neighbor.  Fun! Right?

But Newport Beach could never go into that direction, could it?

Well why couldn’t it?

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, even mine, that smoking is bad, and second-hand smoke is just as bad.

In 2007, less than 20 percent of Americans smoked.

Researchers in 2011 found that California has the second-lowest smoking rate in the Country, with just 11.9 percent of our California residents lighting up.

This was done with the heavy state taxes on tobacco paying for Anti-Smoking education programs, coupled with smoking bans in closed areas like office buildings and restaurants, resulting in a generation of Californians growing up in a smoke-free environment.

So far so good right?  Maybe.

Truthfully, I’m glad I cannot smoke in these closed off and captive-audience locations.

But outside, on the beach, next to the beach, or in parks?  If I don’t like the girl on the sidewalk next to the beach smoking, I guess I can walk to the other side of the sidewalk, the other side of the beach entrance.  If I don’t like the tourist from Japan (where EVERYONE smokes) smoking on the park bench, I can move to a different park bench.  Plus, we have something called the sky and the wind, which makes the secondhand smoke situation quite different than that within a 500-square-foot office.

But the “republicans” in Newport Beach think differently.

And it is now illegal to smoke on the beach, and it’ll soon be illegal to smoke in parks and on the sidewalk “buffers” NEXT to the beach.

Pretty soon, it’ll be illegal to smoke next to those buffers next to the beach, then it’ll be illegal smoke next to those buffers, until finally, it’ll be illegal to smoke in your own home, with your own windows shut.

Thank God for Government, huh?



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  1. Jack Wu Columnist
    Newport Beach Independent News


    Regarding “The Slippery Slope to the Nanny State”

    The Nanny Managers need to exercise caution when voting for laws that have the effect od creating dissension in the neighborhood. Depending on whose “oxen is being gored”, people will often retaliate. Be very careful what you wish for.

    We presently own two, fully paid for, homes here on the Peninsula. My wife and I have discussed the possibility that if the City or our neighbors were to cause a citation to be issued for smoking an occasional cigar, antwhere, on our private property we should actively seek out a more friendly new state in which to enjoy the final years of our retirement.

    A large family from south Los Angeles County ot central Orange County seeking a smoke free Socialist enviornment would seem fitting.

    Incidently, there are no Scientific Studies in existence today that prove the mere odor of tobacco in the open air is Carcinogenic.

    G Davis
    Peninsula Point

  2. I’ve never written anything on anyone’s blog or written a letter to a paper or magazine for comment to an article.
    Your article struck a note with me this morning and I think you’re skipping a wee point here. I can’t help but to read short sightedness and ignorance. Is this a city council bashing article or are you trying to make a legitimate argument. I’m not going to even begin to argue a second hand smoke conversation, smoking is just flat out disgusting and unhealthy, that said though, to each his own. I do take issue with smokers (the vast majority but not all). Smokers think that littering their butts is OK. Flick it out your car window while driving, stomp it out at the entry of a business before walking in, and to the point of your article litter on the streets of our/your neighborhoods. Have you ever looked at the street ends before you step foot on the beach in our town, cigarette butts. There might even be a trash can sitting there but the butts are thrown on the ground next to it. Really! Come on we have these beautiful things here called beaches and bays. If someone throws a butt on the ground guess where it ends up…in the storm drains…wanna know where the storm drains end up…in the bay. Like I said to each his own, however it’s the smokers that are bringing the restrictions on themselves. If smokers were “considerate” to those around them “other people and the environment” they lived in then you would clearly see less backlash on it. Smokers, if you are reading this, quit being so selfish and consider the impact that you have on everyone and everything around you!
    West Newport

  3. I am tickled pink my daughter, a successful self made business woman moved out of your NANNY State. No longer will I need to bite the intolerance bullet just to visit her. I know two other people who want to leave (escape) but are too financially strapped or can’t sell their home.

    Must be nice when your state is billions in debt and your “never before made a comment” concern is cigarette butts. No concern about other litter, people spitting in the sand “where the children play,” or peeing in the water “where the children swim,” noooo, you zero right in on those disgusting smokers and their cigarette butts. And you think Jack Wu is short sighted and ignorant? Talk about Eyes Wide Shut.

  4. Mr. Wu, you cannot be serious about this issue. We who have children with asthma and allergies would just love it if you people all left Ca. as soon as possible so we can have a clean environment.

    Breathing clear air is a right and if jerks continue to contaminate the air in the name of freedom, please sell your homes and leave.

  5. To Lynn,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you should practice what you preach, if your nanny belief’s are as true as you believe you have never spent a day out of the hospital you were born in. What would be interesting is for Jack Wu to do a story on you just to see how pure you really are over a week or 2. Remember people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.It would not surprise me that the Nannies would ban people who have children with asthma and allergies a burden on health care smoke tax helps pay for.