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?