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


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."