The city of Los Angeles is seemingly on the verge of banning smoking from the outdoor patios of restaurants on grounds of…well who the hell knows anymore?
The measure's sponsor, Councilman Greig Smith, said he wrote the legislation after noticing that California's ban on smoking inside restaurants was driving smokers just outside the establishments' doors, exposing children and other patrons to secondhand smoke as they entered the venue or waited for tables.
Note: One of the last L.A. public spaces you can still smoke in is your local municipal golf course. Beause, after all, the city would make less money if its customers couldn't enjoy the cigars that are readily available at the city-owned golf course kiosks….
I'm neither smoker nor scientist nor fan of cigarette companies, but the only place I've ever felt the presence of second-hand smoke outside–i.e., that place where there IS NO ROOF–is when the smoking patio of my favorite neighborhood margarita-dispenser enveloped itself in an airtight plastic condom for warmth. To which we had a shockingly radical solution: Leave, and let the friendly owners know that we wouldn't come back until the covering was gone. No individual liberties were sacrificed in the process.
Still, as depressingly inevitable as this news is, it's heartening to see some residents of my former neighborhood raise a hackle or two:
Outside Cafe Tropical in Silver Lake on Wednesday evening, smoker Omar Montes said he worried the City Council was going too far.
"When you get into the government telling you what to do outdoors, I worry about that," said Montes, a 43-year-old computer systems technician. "I understand the health reasons for it…. But for me it's about Big Brother. How far is it going to go? You can't text [while driving], you can't talk on the phone. I mean c'mon."
A smoker in the upstairs Biergarten at Silver Lake's Red Lion Inn predicted that the council would face strong opposition from smokers.
"We have already been penalized and prosecuted as smokers in the last five, 10 years or so," said Matthew Tolmachoff, a 38-year-old biotech equipment salesman. "If it's your choice that you want to kill yourself smoking a cigarette, you should at least be able to have a drink to go along with that."
Reason asking "How far will smoking bans go?" here.