We Could Put Smokers in Jail, But We Have No Plans to Do So

Yesterday I got an e-mail message from Michael Hafken, a public information specialist for the City of Calabasas, offering a "correction" of my column about the town's new outdoor smoking ban:

Please note that there is NO possible jail time for a violation of the Comprehensive Secondhand Smoke Control Ordinance in the City of Calabasas. Penalties range from warnings (most cases) to a potential $500 fine for extreme, repeated and willful violations. Violations are coded as infractions and NOT misdemeanors.

I wrote back, pointing out that the ordinance says, "A violation of this ordinance shall constitute a misdemeanor punishable pursuant to chapter 1.16 of this code [which specifies a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine] unless the prosecutor determines to prosecute it as an infraction as authorized by section 1.16.010(a)." Ten hours later, I received this reply:

You are correct regarding the ordinance text. I should have said that the City has publicly maintained that there are no plans to treat violations as misdemeanors. As is true of any violation of the City Code, we have a broad range of remedies, ranging from administrative fines (like parking tickets, which top out at $500), infractions (which also top out at $500), and full-blown misdemeanor prosecution. For the initial period of enforcement, the City only plans on educating people about the ordinance and issuing warnings. In extreme situations, such as repeated and willful violations, a fine may be levied as an infraction.

I guess my point, poorly made in my previous email, was that there are no foreseeable instances where the City would arrest people and put them in jail for smoking under this ordinance. I apologize for any confusion.

So the city's position is that although it has the authority the put smokers in jail, it will never use that authority. If so, why put it in the ordinance to begin with?

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  • ||

    Why put it in the ordinance to begin with?

    So future politicians can!

  • ||

    Wow. Michael Hafken must think we're all exceedingly stupid if he believes that telling us that "the law allows for it, but it'll never be used."


    Of course, I don't think they ought to be fining $500 for smoking. But I guess that just makes me an "extremist."

  • ||

    "For the initial period of enforcement, the City only plans on educating people about the ordinance and issuing warnings."

    How fucking benevolent of them. Me Lawd, may awye have just a wee bit of slop!? Yes? Oh, me'lawd, awye thanks you, very much. Awye bow down in yaw presence!

  • ||

    If so, why put it in the ordinance to begin with?

    To scare people! That's what government is for--to scare people into not doing whatever. ...whatever the city decides.

    That's why it's so important to have good people in government ...'cause this is good scary, not bad scary. ...and the distinction's important. ...for some reason.

  • ||

    I find it rather telling that he emailed Jacob directly instead of actually posting here in the forum.

    After all, if his position was really on the side of the angels, he should have no problem defending this.

  • ||

    I find it rather telling that he emailed Jacob directly instead of actually posting here in the forum.

    Well, see, there's probably an ordinance preventing him from posting.

    Not that they enforce it. But they could.

  • ||

    mediageek, I can think of other reasons, other than bein' yella, why someone might choose not to post here, in the forum.

    Perhaps he's read the forum. ;-)

  • ||

    It hardly needs repeating...

    "What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long."
    - Thomas Sowell

  • ||

    This is the same approach they did here in Washington. Before the I-901 vote King County Tobacco Prevention Officer Roger Valdez was minimizing the intent, that the 25-foot rule was something they didn't intend enforcing, and that they were only concerned with blatant cases where smoke was entering the business building. After it passed he now talks about how "you" have no right to smoke at all, even in your own home. They've extended the same 25 foot rule to open air bus stops and have started a 'bring it outside' advertising campaign; the ads show a livingroom-like RESIDENTIAL setting with a couch and so forth. The implication is pretty clear.

    Incidently, they never publicized another key aspect concerning non-compliant businesses: the regulation just mentions $100 fines. However, the way they're really going about it is by threatening to pull the establishment's liquor license, effectively shutting a bar or club down.

    But as some folks would say, hey dude, chill out. It's not like we're trying to remove your freedoms or control your behavior or anything. We're, like, good people and all. It's all for the kids, or the patrons, or the employees, or the musicians, or whatever. Calm down....

  • ||

    Joe is the ONLY city official allowed to post at Hit&Run. All others must e-mail the bloggers directly under penalty of a dog pile-on.

    (Not that we would actually enforce this punishment.)

  • ||

    lurker,

    Calm down :| (he said with a straight face).

    Seattle has several smoker's clubs currently operating under the tobacco police state. I don't think I have heard of a bar closing as a result of the new law (please cite a specific example where a booze license has been pulled). All the shows I've been to have been sold out, even on weeknights (don't think stats have been run yet on overall attendance, but it ain't down for sure). I've only seen one news story regarding an angry business owner who claimed economic harm. Bet there would be more coverage if it was more common.

    WA has voter initiatives. Calm down and propose a revision of the law to fit your vision of it (hint a repeal will lose, but exceptions might make it through).

    Breathe deep if you can...

  • ||

    Kewl! More arbitrary legislation to keep us on our toes, guessing.

  • ||

    Hafken's statement, "there is NO possible jail time," seems vaguely familiar. It's like Clinton's lawyer's claim "there is no sex." I'm surprised Hafken didn't try Clinton's defense: It all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

  • ||

    The Little Woman here cooks such a healthy fare that my farts smell like Evening in Paris with just a hint of musk and note of meadowlark.
    Still I'm thinkin'...
    First they came for the smokers...
    The farters did nothing but (Bronx)cheer?

  • ||

    When does this silly ordinance go into effect? Calabasas is just over the hill from here. I'd love to drop by on day one just to light up.

  • ||

    I wonder what criteria Calabasa's finest are going to use to separate the infractions from the misdemeanors. "Smoking while black", anyone?

  • ||

    I did try to post here, but my browser hung, and after I hit the stop button, my post didn't show up. Does that happen often here?

  • ||

    As a waitress in CA, I like the government telling other people not to do things that hurt my health. Now that my 2nd hand smoke lung cancer has gone into remission, I've noticed I don't hear so well. Turns out all that loud rock music I've been exposed to has degraded my hearing, Petey from the Who told me so.

    I'm working now with a few local politicians on an ordinance to ban amplified music indoors. Sure, some people enjoy it, but what about the rest of us? What about our health? I've got to make a living, so I can't quit. A few people I've tried to get to sign on have called me crazy, saying there's no way they'll get rid of everything but acoustic music in clubs, and I agree it'll be a long haul.

    But there are precedents now, it should be easier.

  • ||

    I think we should all be grateful to our loving nanny godernment! We should express our thanks by telling what we are grateful for. In that spirit, I'll start.
    I'm grateful for smokeless gun powder.

  • Rich Ard||

    I did try to post here, but my browser hung, and after I hit the stop button, my post didn't show up. Does that happen often here?

    You have to post it two or three times, so we know you mean it.

  • Mike||

    How broad is this ordinance and how does it define "smoking." Can I smoke "medical" marijuana outdoors?

  • ||

    I'm working now with a few local politicians on an ordinance to ban amplified music indoors. Sure, some people enjoy it, but what about the rest of us?

    DAWaitress,

    Hey, that post just gave me brain cancer. Shame on you.

  • ||

    What happens when you don't pay the fine for your infraction? Isn't the threat of jailtime always there?

  • ||

    this is another in a growing number of municipalities that, if I knew where the hell they were, would definitely not be on my vacation list...

  • Michael Price||

    Ironically when you do go to jail your ass will be traded for, guess what?

  • ||

    "I did try to post here, but my browser hung, and after I hit the stop button, my post didn't show up. Does that happen often here?"

    Like you wouldn't believe. Our theory is that around the late afternoon the hamster in the wheel that runs the Reason Server gets tired.

  • ||

    So, um, does that thing detect _all_ kinds of smoke?

  • ||

    Since airheads have an even stronger aversion to mercury than tobacco smoke , surely the ordinance encompasses that shockingly toxic vapor. and the fist to go directly to jail should be that fair city'd feng shui practioners, who use only the finest cinnabar in the red paint used to harmonize the vibes of blast burners in better tofu restaurants.

    Next there are the reprobate clergymen who burn incernse indoors in the presence of infants and the aged and infirm, and lastly, since small furry animal loving Calabahemites doubtless invest in amalgam filling pet dentistry , there is the belching inferno at: The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park i, pet cemetery situated on ten landscaped acres in Calabasas. incorporated as S.O.P.H.I.E., Inc. ("Save Our Pets' History in Eternity"). S.O.P.H.I.E., Inc. is a non-profit public benefit corporation . Pre-need plans are available for burials and cremations.

    Where does the city spokesman stand on second hand pets?

  • ||

    Here's a test:

    Sit in a garage with all doors and windows closed and ten chain smokers. Note how long it takes to pass out.

    Repeat this with one running automobile instead of the smokers.

    Banning of outdoor smoking for health reasons simply doesn't make any sense unless cars have already been banned. Even the indoor smoking bans don't really make sense for health reasons with the presence of indoor garages a vastly greater threat o public health.

    But of course, as noted above, this really isn't about health, is it?

  • ||

    I did try to post here, but my browser hung, and after I hit the stop button, my post didn't show up. Does that happen often here?

    Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

  • ||

    "Banning of outdoor smoking for health reasons simply doesn't make any sense unless cars have already been banned. Even the indoor smoking bans don't really make sense for health reasons with the presence of indoor garages a vastly greater threat o public health."

    Yeah, but without my SUV, how else am I supposed to be able to drive down to StarShmucks and buy a Fair Trade Grande Half-Caf Mocha Macchiato?

    Don't you understand?! It's important that we all have our cars! There are benefits to driving cars! Meanwhile, those dirty, filthy smokers sit around inhaling tobacco for fun!

    But, teste, I guess you just hate the children.

  • ||

    It's not that I don't like children, it's just that I can't decide how they are best enjoyed.

    On the one hand, grinding them up, freeze drying them and running hot water through gives a delicious, aromatic pink beverage.

    On the other hand, dessicating and finely shredding them, followed by rolling them in paper and setting alight gives a rich, satisfying smoke.

    I suppose if I lived in Calabassas, the decision would be made for me.

  • ||

    "I did try to post here, but my browser hung, and after I hit the stop button, my post didn't show up. Does that happen often here?"

    The server squirrels were on their daily smoke break

  • ||

    Anyone here remember that character Martin Short played who nervously puffed a cigarette and kept being evasive "I KNOW THAT! Don't you think I know that?!"

    This city guy reminds me of him.

  • ||

    Aw, give the poor schmuck a break. He didn't write the idiotic law. It's his job to toe the line. Of course, he could get an honest job...

  • ||

    You are correct regarding the ordinance text.

    I never cease to be amazed how many gov't employees are so consistently dishonest; if they were working in the private sector most would be fired or in jail.

  • VM||

    Rick:

    excellent observations, as usual.

    Can't you imagine the scene:

    Friday: come with us. you are under arrest
    suspect: why? what are you going to do? arrest me for smoking (delivered either as Sharon Stone or Michael Douglas, your choice)
    Friday: just the facts. don't make me use my taser.

    it's great.

    Teste: well, if you'd like a, um, modest proposal for children. may i recommend a cream sauce with shallots, champigons.....

    cheerio.

  • ||

    Sit in a garage with all doors and windows closed and ten chain smokers. Note how long it takes to pass out.

    I think I've done that, but it would be hard to tell what was the direct cause of passing out. The more I think about it, it was probably the moons^H^H^H^H^H gin, yup that's it, the gin.

    Repeat this with one running automobile instead of the smokers.

    If it's a newer 'emissions compliant' automobile, it may shut down with a "take me in, I've been bad" error code by itself before you pass out. Your stomach lining might try to escape tho. Sure it would depend on how sensitive the car is as to whether you pass out or not but... Now pipe in clean air for the engine, or alternately just pipe in the exhaust and it's a different story.

  • ||

    Chewing, eating, drinking, injecting, snorting are all protected exercises of a right and should be allowed.

    Smoking is not a protected exercise of a right since it infringes upon the rights of third parties an there is nothing you can do to ameliorate this.

  • ||

    Do we believe everything we hear? There is no scientific proof linking second hand smoke to lung cancer in non-smokers. However, out of respect for people with conditions such as asthma, I would happily go outside. Oh wait...we can't even do that anymore. What's next...are they gonna take away junk food?

  • ||

    "The people should not fear their government. The government should fear the people."

    From what I've seen of the new V is for Vendetta preview, Calabasas better be on their toes.

  • ||

    Chewing, eating, drinking, injecting, snorting are all protected exercises of a right and should be allowed.

    But those infringe upon my right to eat, drink, etc. those items that are being consumed and therefore should not be allowed. Damn those externalities, why can't we legislate them away.

  • ||

    Hitler to the Austrian President: Do you think i'd build up these armies not to use them?

  • Rich Ard||

    Holy shit, this got linked on Fark - the server squirrels are about to get fucked.

  • ||

    All your Server Squirrels belong to us.

  • ||

    "All your Server Squirrels belong to us."
    That's so funny it made me laugh ginger ale through my nose.

  • Fark||

    Don't worry, nobody actually reads me anymore except for a few guys who have a laughing pirate fetish.

  • ||

    Wish I lived in California, I would like to test this in court.

  • ||

    Dave:

    You would lose.

  • ||

    Hey, Not That-- why did you assume I was referring to you? ;)

    Seattle has several smoker's clubs currently operating under the tobacco police state.

    Kind of like speakeasys during Prohibition? There are some that are trying to get around the letter of I-901. The rule prohibits smoking in any 'public' place, and any 'place of employment'. I know of one place that claims it's a private club and that they don't have any 'employees', just 'volunteers'. I applaud them but personally I think they'll be shut down. The Health Dept will have the Labor Department go after them for their definition of 'employees' or something. It's only been three months, after all.

    I don't think I have heard of a bar closing as a result of the new law (please cite a specific example where a booze license has been pulled).

    Don't know of any actually 'pulled' yet-- after all, shutting you down is a big incentive to toe the line, right?-- but how about the Monkey Pub, a punk club on Roosevelt? They got threatened real fast. From the UW Daily, 1/6:

    Following the start of Washington's state-wide restaurant and bar smoking ban on Dec. 9, the Monkey Pub's staff chose to defy the law. For 20 days they were the only North Seattle bar where customers were allowed to smoke indoors, but in late December the owner received letters from the health department threatening a revocation of the pub's business and liquor licenses.

    All the shows I've been to have been sold out

    The business at the smokeeasies seems brisk, too. And the exempt Indian casinos. But the local cardrooms are hurting; I've talked with employees who claim about 20% loss. And the hookah bars are SOL. I'll bet the little Mom and Pop taverns are feeling the impact. Other clubs are still going well because people like me are hanging around outside on the sidewalk a lot (until we get cracked down on). Of course we're not inside DRINKING quite as much, so how the receipts pan out is another matter....

    I've only seen one news story regarding an angry business owner who claimed economic harm. Bet there would be more coverage if it was more common.

    Do you REALLY believe that? **smile**

  • ||

    Jeebus, it even makes ashtrays illegal:

    (c) No person shall dispose of Smoking waste or place or maintain a receptacle for Smoking waste in an area in which Smoking is prohibited by this chapter or other law, including within any Reasonable Distance required by this chapter.

  • R C Dean||

    Should be

    All your Server Squirrel are belong to us.

  • ||

    Yes R C Dean you are correct. I shall now fall on my illegal machete.

    When they banned smoking in restaurants and bars here it bothered me. I kept thinking if the people so wanted a smoke free bar why didn't the smoke free bars we had ever seem to work out? Now we got things like enclosed smoking areas in truck stops but only for truckers who show their license to smoke in there. Others have to step outside into the sub zero winter.

    Oh well. Pretty soon they will finish with the smokers and we can go after the fatties and drinkers.

  • ||

    Its REALY disheartening that as an international traveler, I visit countries that are touted as "oppressed". Yet I seem to have MUCH more personal freedom than I do here in the US...

    Yeah, those "oppressive" regimes seem to have more rules on the books, but they never seem quite as enthusiastic about enforcing them as our own boys in blue, do they?

    When my brother lived in Italy, he moved to a new apartment and failed to register his new address with the local police within 6 days as required by law. When the local cop came to make a routine check a couple of weeks later he was simply able to fill in a later date on the form and everything was hunky-dory. No bribe or anything; the cop just couldn't be bothered to make a stink over such a petty thing. Now if bro had been black or an arab it probably would have been a different story.

  • ||

    But did they make it illegal to sell them?

  • ||

    "Its REALY disheartening that as an international traveler, I visit countries that are touted as "oppressed". Yet I seem to have MUCH more personal freedom than I do here in the US..."

    Whoever said this--I'm borrowing from Isaac Bartram, above--I just want to say my excellent buddy, Waki Paki, has the same thoughts.
    He's especially wrought by US highway patrolmen and traffic signals.
    Some of you know how near and dear to my heart are such concerns.
    Evidently in Pakistan driving waki is the only way to.
    Has anybody else here had a taxi ride from the military HQ to BC Street in Naha, Okinawa?

  • ||

    Slightly off topic, but Jacob is getting some love over at ESPN.com.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=hruby/060310

  • Robert||

    Re http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=hruby/060310 , how d'ya get concussions in tennis? Doubles partners hit you with their rackets? Dive into the poles that hold up the net?

    Anyway, I was surprised to learn that the statutes for ordinary traffic violations in NY routinely include the possibility of a little jail time, so there is precedent for statutes that allow for jail and yet no violator being jailed. Maybe this is really routine in the field, so that any serious ordinance has to include incarceration as a theoretic possibility just because...well, just because that's how those things are supposed to be written.

  • M. Simon||

    Tobacco is an anti-depressant.

  • ||

    Intrusive government is a depressant.

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