Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another Smoke Screen for California

You cannot smoke in a car. You cannot smoke in a bar. You cannot smoke on a plane. You cannot smoke on a train. You cannot smoke with a kid around. You cannot smoke anywhere in town. The only place that you can smoke is sitting in a garbage pail. And even then you can’t exhale!

Why don’t they just make smoking cigarettes illegal? I just recently quit (for the 100th time), so I would actually welcome it at this point. California has passed so many laws that limit where people can smoke, that it just seems like they’re dodging the inevitable. If smoking is so bad for us and the state keeps limiting where we can smoke – then why is it still legal?

First, they said no smoking in bars or restaurants. That one I agree with…partially. Anyone who would smoke in a restaurant is rude and an inconsiderate idiot any way, in my opinion. Bars I have a little different feeling about. I think bar owners should be able to designate a certain area within their establishment for smoking if they want to. California already screws with bar and nightclub owners enough as it is – a smoking ban is just another way to exert further control over them in an already over-regulated business environment.

Now California is passing a law that prohibits people from smoking in a vehicle where kids are present. I have mixed feelings about that one as well. A courteous smoker can roll down the window and blow the smoke out into the already smoggy atmosphere and easily spare his or her child the second hand smoke. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think children should EVER be exposed to cigarette smoke. But, it just seems like the government is taking away our rights one by one.

Where does it end? Besides, on some days in places like LA and NY (and even here in SF) the air we breathe is just about as harmful as second hand cigarette smoke.
Some cities in California have even outlawed smoking outside. In Burbank, for instance, it is illegal to smoke within the city limits. Now, how invasive is that? You can’t even smoke outside?
The entire situation has reached comical proportions. Cigarette companies pay millions of dollars per year to warn people about the dangers of smoking. They are essentially paying for most of the anti-smoking campaigns in this country. How ridiculous! That would be like the beef producers doing ads that say “Don’t Eat Red Meat” or condom manufacturers promoting celibacy.

Either let people smoke wherever they want or outlaw it altogether. That’s my opinion. If we live in a free country, let’s act like it and stop trying to play Big Brother in every aspect of people’s lives.

This appeared on today:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California motorists will risk fines of up to $100 next year if they are caught smoking in cars with minors, making their state the third to protect children in vehicles from secondhand smoke.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed a bill that will make it an infraction to smoke in a vehicle if someone under age 18 is present. But the traffic stop would have to be made for another offense, such as speeding or an illegal turn, before the driver could be cited for smoking.
The ban, which takes effect Jan. 1, joins a string of smoking prohibitions adopted in California, including a ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces and within 25 feet of a playground.

A Harvard School of Public Health report issued last year said secondhand smoke in cars can be up to 10 times more of a health risk than secondhand smoke in a home.
"Protecting the health of our children is among government's highest responsibilities," said the bill's author, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, a Democrat. "It is clear that increasing public awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke is the right thing to do."

At least 20 states and a number of municipalities have considered limiting smoking in cars where minors are present. Arkansas now bans smoking in cars with children age 6 and younger, while Louisiana has limited it when children 13 and younger are in the vehicle. Maine lawmakers will take up the issue in January.

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