First, let me begin by saying I was a smoker who decided I didn‚Äôt have a death wish after all and quit years ago. Was it hard? You bet. Addiction is a terrible thing. I then went on to run stop smoking groups in New York City for the American Cancer Society and had the highest rate of people who quit smoking and stayed a non-smoker.
So my question is this: when oh when is Santa Monica going to enforce the no smoking laws currently on the books?¬† Waiting for a bus is like smoking a pack a day. Besides no smoking on the Third Street Promenade, in restaurants, at the Santa Monica Pier, in the parks, etc., there are laws in place that state there is no smoking within 20 feet of a bus stop and no smoking within 20 feet of a business. Which means that if you smoke Downtown, pretty much you‚Äôd have to be in the middle of the street, which might also kill you since by smoking you already have a death wish.
As an almost daily bus rider I am inundated constantly by smokers at the bus stops, especially Downtown. And God forbid you ask them nicely to please obey the law and not smoke. How we do defend our wrongs? One young lady insisted that she smokes at bus stops all the time. Some just look at you like you‚Äôre a wacko. Others get downright nasty, if not dangerous.
For instance, on Friday, Feb. 22, as I approached the outgoing bus stop at Broadway and Fourth Street, I heard three men screaming and acting in a very threatening manner. Not knowing what was going on, I asked a lady quietly what was up. She indicated a man standing at the bus stop had asked the three men to please not smoke and they went ballistic. This screaming continued for a good 15 minutes until the three boarded the No. 2 bus that came. They were threatening all of us standing there, screaming in our faces about how we are all breathing in exhaust, etc., and how they had “rights.”
Well, my “rights” are being violated by involving me in their addiction. The man who had initially requested they not smoke did not answer them or engage them further as they obviously were missing some toys in the attic. It‚Äôs come to a pretty pass when a citizen of this city has to feel threatened by idiots defending their death wish with physical violence as I witnessed on the 22nd.
If City Hall really cared about the effect of second-hand smoke, they would post signs and enforce the existing laws. And of course, out of towners don‚Äôt know about the laws as no signs are posted anywhere. We need large, readable signs posted at bus stops, in parks, etc., and we need law enforcement to step up and at least give warnings if not tickets.
I for one am so tired of Santa Monica not enforcing these laws to the point where I will never vote for an incumbent City Council member again; and I am really disappointed that City Hall can‚Äôt afford to (1) post no smoking signs that can be read and (2) designate some of their workers to go out and enforce the no smoking laws. Even a few tickets might send a message. They send out employees to issue parking tickets, so why not enforce these no smoking laws? This could be a real money maker as the no smoking laws are constantly being broken. Money making should get this greedy little city‚Äôs attention.
I haven‚Äôt even addressed the damage to wildlife and the environment caused by all these cigarettes going down storm drains. But smokers, know when you toss your cancer stick on the street Downtown (or anywhere on the street) it is being forced into the storm drains by the street cleaning equipment.¬† This carries all the cigarettes into our precious ocean where they cause real damage to the ocean wildlife. I for one want my granddaughter and her children to enjoy the creatures of this world we so callously disregard with our selfish ways.
And if anyone writes in defending their right to smoke, save your energy. I won‚Äôt read it.
Marilyn Brennan is a Santa Monica resident. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.