A Family-Friendly, Smoke-Free Atmosphere of Intolerant Meddling

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The City Council of Calabasas, California, is on the verge of banning outdoor smoking in the presence of others, including smoking in the outdoor seating areas of bars and restaurants, smoking on balconies and patios, smoking in parks, smoking in parking lots, and smoking on sidewalks. The ordinance, which is expected to receive final approval in late February or early March, announces that "except as otherwise provided by this chapter or by state or federal law, smoking is prohibited everywhere in the city." The exceptions are private residences, hotel rooms, and outdoor "smokers' outposts" in shopping malls. People also may smoke in an "outdoor area in which no person who is not smoking or who does not consent to smoking is within a Reasonable Distance [i.e., 20 feet] of the smoker" (emphasis added). So if you voluntarily go to an isolated outdoor spot with a friend who smokes, he can legally light up only if you do too?

The avowed goals of the ban include "protecting children from exposure to smoking and tobacco," "affirming and promoting the family-friendly atmosphere of the City's public places," and "reducing the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle." As I've said before, the same rationale of setting a good, healthy example for the kids could be used to bar fat people from public places.

The only encouraging thing is that even some nonsmoking residents of Calabasas think the city's guardians of "the public health, safety, and welfare" are going too far. "I think it's fabulous," one told the Los Angeles Times, "but I don't think it's right."

NEXT: Police Apologize to Cindy Sheehan

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  1. Not that it makes the law any less absurd, but I think you have misunderstood part 4 of Sec. 8.12.040 Prohibition of Smoking

    (4) Any outdoor area in which no person who is not smoking or who does not consent to smoking is within a Reasonable Distance of the smoker. A person who is not smoking is legally presumed to object to smoking; proof that a non-smoking person within a Reasonable Distance of an outdoor smoker has consented to the smoking shall be an affirmative defense to any claim of violation of this chapter.

    To me that says you and your smoking friend can go off to an isolated spot as long as you are ready to testify in court that you had consented.

  2. A person who is not smoking is legally presumed to object to smoking; proof that a non-smoking person within a Reasonable Distance of an outdoor smoker has consented to the smoking shall be an affirmative defense to any claim of violation of this chapter.

    Actually, xray, I’d read this to say that you could be smoking in the middle of a crowd of asthmatic nuns and babies; as long as 1 person consented to you smoking, you’d be safe.

  3. < Disclaimer to any politician who may read the above: This is not an actual suggestion and can’t be used as a law because, sadly, I’m over five years old. >

    Damn it! Where is the ban on showing smoking in movies and TV? Slackers! Now if we could only get all the bad stuff off the shelves of stores and in the back “adult only” sections…or…I’ve got it, just don’t let kids into stores! Oh it’s so simple, you must be 21 to buy anything. Problem solved!

  4. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Do your part to save social security by dying young!

  5. Next the town should apply to doctrine to vehicle exhaust and other emissions.

  6. Davis has a similar law already in place. My friend told me he was given a ticket about 10-15 years ago by a bike cop for smoking on the street there. He describes it as one of his more humiliating moments.

  7. Doh! in the above disclaimer it should be
    who read the following. and not above.

  8. jf: I’m gonna keep your phone number handy if I ever visit Calabassas.

  9. Stop farting around and ban them. Then we can see how long it takes before we have the first drive by shooting in the nicotine wars….my money is on four months

  10. California has got to be the most unfriendly state to smokers. When I lived there, I could not walk five feet with a cigarette in my mouth before some snot waved their hand in my face. And hotels are required to post huge signs at the desk warning of “dangerous substances in the air”. It’s not surprising the state’s laws are continuing to reflect its citizens’ attitudes–but for the love of God I wish they would stop exporting their silliness to the rest of the country.

  11. So the smog capital of America decides it need to crack down on secondhand smoke to make people healthy! Excellent place to start. Uh-huh.

    Also, if you’re addicted to heroin, methamphetamines, whiskey and caffeine–clearly, the coffee is the first habit you need to kick in order to improve your health.

  12. amazing drx: I’d agree with you except for the unpleasant fact that not all smokers actually get cancer. I think tobacco companies should put more carcinogens in the damn things, that way they really WILL kill the idiots that use them.

  13. Actually, jf, as I read it, you can be standing in a crowd of smokers and if (when the cop shows up) there’s a single non-smoking person in the crowd who says “no, I didn’t consent,” then every smoker there is fined.

    And of course I’m assuming that a child is unable to consent . . . . (After all, it’s all about the children, right?) So smoke outdoors next to your child and you’re ticketed, smoke indoors with your child and that’s okay because you’re in your house.

  14. Biggest gang rules.
    Rinse.
    Repeat.

  15. Yep vidor, make ’em more toxic. Then deny medical treatment to smokers!

  16. Personally, I’d be more okay with a fatty ban. At least smoking helps some people keep weight off so they still look good in swimsuits.

  17. I think tobacco companies should put more carcinogens in the damn things, that way they really WILL kill the idiots that use them.

    Goodness no, man! Where on earth will state and local governments get the tax revenues to pay for their health care and school lunch programs?

    Everyone should smoke! Do it For The Children!

  18. “protecting children from exposure to smoking and tobacco,”

    I’m just curious, but, since when did the entire world, with the small exception of your own bedroom, have to be 100% safe for “the children”? Shit, cars driving on the street pose a danger to “the children” too. Should we not ban cars?

    “affirming and promoting the family-friendly atmosphere of the City’s public places,”

    Nothin’ says “family-friendly” like “we-know-better-than-you-do” authoritarianism.

    I hereby propose a law that bans children. It’s obvious that they, via government proxy, are a dire threat to our freedom. Every instance of our liberties being stolen from us is invariably “for the children”. So, if we don’t have any children running around, then they’ll have no excuse. Plus, no more screaming bastard demon-spawn fuckers ruining my dinner. Win/win, baby!

  19. Plus, no more screaming bastard demon-spawn fuckers ruining my dinner.

    Time to join SSCCATAGAPP.

  20. Ban children, not smoking!!

    Like the army is doing in Iraq. Damn terrorist moms nursing their terrorist babies!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060127/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_leveraging_wives

  21. “It’s for the children!”

    I recall many times seeing kids that couldn’t possibly have been more than 13 years old smoking in public, even on the steps of the local library. Methinks the children don’t give a fuck either…

  22. “It is now proven, beyond a doubt, that smoking is a leading cause of statistics.” – I. Forget

  23. “Methinks the children don’t give a fuck either…”

    In the true tradition of busybody beaurocrats everywhere, the point is that the government nanny knows what’s best for everyone – and their kids – better than they do. What people “mind” is besides the point.

    “Because let me tell you some’n’ about smokin’! Uh, smokin’s bad, m’kay. And uh, if you start smokin’ at an early age, m’kay, ih it’s gonna be bad. M’kay, because uh, smoking can lead to all kinds of health problems like cancer. M’kay, and let me tell you something about cancer, m’kay. Cancer’s bad.”

  24. The Mexicans want California back. I say we give it to them and good riddance. I wish all of you who think you are in charge of what’s best for the rest of us move there first. Get your bags packed and get the hell out of here!

  25. “So the smog capital of America decides it need to crack down on secondhand smoke to make people healthy! Excellent place to start. Uh-huh.”

    While I agree with all that this is a bad law, Calabasas is far from the smog capital of America.

  26. I think there should be a rule that only someone who has either sired or bore a child should be allowed to do anything political for children or even to use the phrase “It’s for the children”.

    In my experince the worst authoritarian nanny staters are folks who don’t have the social skills to mate. You think a working mother of three kids wants alcohol, smoking, and drugs to be banned?

  27. Actually, jf, as I read it, you can be standing in a crowd of smokers and if (when the cop shows up) there’s a single non-smoking person in the crowd who says “no, I didn’t consent,” then every smoker there is fined.

    Given that this is California, I could see a situation where 800 smokers puffing away would be chased down the street by an anti-smoker and a cop trying to get close enough to write tickets.

  28. What if the cop is a non smoker? Can he give you a ticket once he breaks your reasonable distance?

  29. 800 smokers puffing away would be chased down the street by an anti-smoker and a cop trying to get close enough to write tickets.

    Before I bet, can I see the map? I figure if they can make it past the doughnut shop before being caught, they’re safe.

  30. I hope that the public funded meddlers and activists grow a face so joe citizen can give it an attitude adjustment, how many more insults can be hurled into the face of free America?

  31. I hope that the public funded meddlers and activists grow a face so joe citizen can give it an attitude adjustment, how many more insults can be hurled into the face of free America?

  32. … of free America?

    Can you give me directions to this place? I’d like to move there. I’m currently in New York.

  33. I guess we’ll finally be able to answer the poetic question “how many asses live in Calabasas?” when the final vote comes down.

  34. God damn this country is going to hell in a handbasket with no stops in between.

  35. Free America is NOT dysfunctional Kalifornia.
    40 billion of state debt run by activists with no borders. Politicians that are doing their very best to drive every sane business owner out of dysfunctional basket case of a state. But hey! they are the healthiest broke government in the country.

  36. When will they get around to extending these laws to barbecues and campfires? They spew a whole lot more carbon monoxide and ash than a little cigarette, and pose a far bigger threat of wildfire and global warming.

    I hate to jump on the slippery slope bandwagon, but its so damn fun!

  37. Why haven’t those dangerous concrete sidewalks been replaced with soft foam rubber for the safety of the children yet!?

    Why is the sand in this sandbox so dirty!?

    You’re actually encouraging your baby to stand!?

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