YUCK: A cigarette butt research team collects data along the beach boardwalk. (Photo courtesy Benjamin Kay)

CURIOUS CITY — We all tend to shop where it’s convenient, where we know they have what we’re looking for, where the best prices are, where we like the owners or staff, or more likely a combination. Or sometimes we shop by habit, ignoring good economics or other good sense.

I’m guilty too. But I often try to reward “good businesses,” and slap the bad boys, with my shopping dollar. If we all did, it would make a difference.

CVS is now my retail hero. They took the bold move Sept. 3 to stop selling tobacco products in their nearly 8,000 stores/pharmacies. Of course it’s grossly hypocritical and mercenary for so-called health centers to push that highly addictive drug, but we all know the mountains of money there is in tobacco sales, and Walgreens, Rite Aid, supermarkets and convenience stores continue to peddle cancer sticks.

And nearly half a million of us, Americans, die from it every year. That’s a lot of ravaged corpses and devastated families. That’s the equivalent of five Santa Monicas, dead from one legal, government-subsidized, proven-fatally-toxic product. Every year.

Tobacco-related health care costs, that we all pay for: approaching $200B a year. That’s billion. One fifth of a trillion. It’s insane.

But nobody smokes anymore, you say, nobody I know. The national rate has dropped in the last half century from 42 percent to 18. Great. But that’s still enough foolhardiness to fuel these ghastly figures.

CVS will lose out on its share of the $44B spent on tobacco each year. I’m not na√Øve enough to think any corporation does anything for only altruistic reasons. But it doesn’t matter why. They’re doing the right thing and it should be recognized, applauded and rewarded.

But you have to announce it for it to really register, and hopefully have a cumulative effect. Otherwise, dips or rises in sales of anything may be attributed to other factors. I’ve mentioned several times to different CVS managers when I’ve shopped that their corporate move has brought my exclusive business, and I’ve written that to corporate on their web site.

Ralphs (founded 1873, Los Angeles) likewise snagged my loyalty a couple years ago when they sponsored a local police department exchange of guns for their gift cards. I don’t think that program’s still running, but I don’t forget, and they do contribute a lot to community programs on an ongoing basis. So Ralph’s it is, whenever I can.

Speaking of local supermarkets, you may have read my rant about how the reprehensible behavior of the NFL over so many issues led to my being not happy at finding NFL promotion all over every can of Dr. Pepper I recently bought at Vons. When I returned it the manager in charge informed me every single soft drink can, all the major brands, had NFL on them this time of year.

For the record: not so. I later peeked inside the carry slots, and none of the others had NFL anything on them.

I’m not enamored of the Von’s at Lincoln and Colorado anyway. (Even less after they became the only business who wouldn’t let me collect anti-Hines signatures on their property.)

For years now they’ve had the sourest little old security guy there is. What a grump. Every time I walk in and see him scowling, it brings me down for a moment and I think, I should’ve gone to Ralph’s. Have never seen him smile once or speak in anything but a gruff and negative tone. I always feel like he’s watching everyone and waiting for them to do something suspicious.

VOTE. JUST VOTE.

The election is less than a month away. Sure, you, and I, are going to vote the right way, and most of our friends will, but what about all those other unwashed, uninformed, misguided voters out there who glance at a mailer and say, Well, if they are endorsing so-and-so…? All our hopes for a brighter future for our seaside city could be tsunamied by the wrong outcome, despite all our efforts and the divine righteousness of our cause. Yes, Pam could win. Up go the high rises, down goes the water table. Imagine another two years like the last few we’ve had.

Imagine it for Halloween and then be so scared you take a slew of people with you to the polls a few days later. Because only a few other motivated people will be voting, and you may not like their motivation.

I haven’t decided all my voting choices yet. Of course I will vote for Phil Brock for City Council, as previously stated, because I feel he’s the only candidate whose only agenda is all the people of Santa Monica, period. I feel Kevin McKeown has done so much good he probably should be rewarded, and I think Sue Himmelrich and also Richard McKinnon are good candidates, but I’m leery of the love of all three of them for “affordable housing” ueber alles.

Besides Brock, the only certain vote I have right now is for Ben Allen, for our State Senator. I’ve spent some time chatting with him over the past year and he impresses me with his intelligence, enthusiasm, unaffected genuineness and commitment to good causes. He’s a local boy, still serving on our school board (since 2008), and his list of credentials is impressive.

UC Regent, UCLA Law School lecturer, judicial clerk for UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and taught kindergarten and third grade (awww). Harvard magna cum laude in History, Cambridge masters in Latin American Studies (fluent Spanish), Berkeley JD in law and politics of the CA school finance system. His commitment to education (and the environment) seems unassailable and written in real work, and I feel we here would be well served in Sacramento by his knowledge, experience and abilities.

Everyone I know whose opinion I respect loves this guy. He wants to keep working his tail off for us, in Sacramento. I say, hire him.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times.” – Mark Twain

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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