Smoking Outside: CA Los Angeles

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California Los Angeles Update

L.A. Considers Extremist Outdoor Ban

November, 2010
Reported by: Michael J. McFadden, Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

It was a dark and stormy night on the streets of Los Angeles.  The pushers and hookers were hard at work, honestly plying their trades while the muggers relieved their potential customers of excess cash and the bikers tossed beer bottles at passersby in between dodging drive-by shootings.
 
Suddenly the calm was broken.  Sirens screeched through the night and the flashing red and blue lights and black vans filled with SWAT police swooped into the neighborhood.  An anonymous caller had rung in a rat snitch on a tobacco smoker lighting up in an alleyway where children normally congregated to shoot medicinal heroin with government sterilized-and-approved syringes.   The smoker tried to run but some decent public spirited muggers pulled out their pieces and laid down a withering line of automatic dum dum fire in his path. 
 
The SWAT team surrounded him but was limited by their inability to approach close enough for a clear line of fire: he still held his burning murder between his nicotine stained fingers and poison gasses swirled around him.  They called for backup and cleared the civilian population from the surrounding area.  A borrowed military helicopter swooped in, dropped a low grade nuke, and the smoker was history.
 
Within hours, life as normal had returned to the bucolic street scene of healthy Los Angeles.
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LA Council Considers Smoking Ban “Where People Congregate”
Nov. 10th, 2010
By Christina Villacorte
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously directed its attorneys Wednesday to prepare an ordinance that would ban smoking in “all public areas and common areas where people congregate.”
Councilman Bernard Parks said the idea is not to ban smoking, but regulate where it can be done.
“I think you go down a path that you can’t recover from (when you begin) talking about banning smoking because I think that’s an individual decision, but we can protect people who have no desire to smell smoke,” Parks said.
He expects the proposed ordinance to be ready for final approval sometime next year.
Smoking is already banned in restaurants and other public places, such as parks and beaches.
In Parks’ motion — approved 13-0 Wednesday — the councilman called for a comprehensive and citywide ordinance that would ban smoking in “all public areas and common areas where people congregate, including, but not limited to, indoor and outdoor businesses, hotels, parks, apartment common areas, restaurants and bars, and beaches.”
Parks added, “We need to implement legislation to regulate cigarette smoking by limiting it to specific places where there is no expectation of involuntary contact with people — wherever people congregate or there is an expectation of people being present, (then) smoking should be prohibited.”
Vanessa Peterson with the American Lung Association told the council that tobacco is the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in California, and that more than 60,000 Americans exposed to second-hand smoke die each year.
A study prepared by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department showed about 1 million smokers countywide and about 435,000 in the city.
The same study estimated that tobacco-related diseases cost the county $4.3 billion a year.
Parks said smoking is a voluntary addiction and not a right protected by the Constitution, “yet secondhand smoke harms an involuntary population which has a right to clean air and a clean environment and which is protected by many public health laws.”
Monty Messex, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, said second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous.
“There is some data that shows that it is worse for you because the second hand smoke that people breathe is from the end of the cigarette, and also being exhaled,” he said. “Second-hand smoke that’s breathed by a person who’s not smoking has been cooled and sometimes will be breathed deeper into their lungs.”
Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Calabasas have already enacted ordinances similar the one being proposed by Parks.
Calabasas Mayor Barry Groveman testified Wednesday that his city’s ordinance is “nothing that stops people from smoking — it’s only designed to stop the second-hand smoke exposure to people who don’t want to face the consequences of second-hand smoke.”
“It’s no different than stopping people from firing weapons, or having bullets land on people,” Groveman added. “We have a right to use police power to protect people.”

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Read more on the L.A.story and listen to an L.A. Councilman on our side at Juliette Tworsey’s blog:


Los Angeles Tobacconists Gear Up for Showdown on Outdoor Smoking
December 22, 2009
When indoor smoking was legislatively banned in Los Angeles restaurants, many restaurant owners opened outdoor patios in order to survive. Now, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, they face possible extinction as a move to ban outdoor smoking at restaurants picks up traction.
The Los Angeles City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee agreed earlier this month to prohibit smoking within 10 feet of restaurant patios, gardens and decks.  Under the proposed ordinance, any space within 30 feet of a food truck also will be defined as an ‘outdoor dining area.’  The measure would not apply to nightclubs and bars that require patrons to be 18 or older.
The Committee is headed by Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes parts of Hollywood, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Koreatown. LaBonge has indicated he wants a final council vote on the ordinance before the end of this year.
Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, said LaBonge was exhibiting signs of a tobaccophobe because he seems to be obsessed with an irrational fear of tobacco.
 “This makes no sense at all.  Councilman LaBonge is being irrational, anti-business, and is depriving all Californians and out-of-state tourists their constitutional rights.  Supporters of this measure have been misled into blindly spreading misinformation about smoking,” he said.
McCalla cited the claim that there is no safe level for secondhand smoke.
“That simply isn’t true. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are safe levels for secondhand smoke.  In fact, OSHA says they are up to 25,000 times higher than are found in bars and restaurants,” McCalla said.
 “Los Angeles restaurateurs already have been deprived of their right to decide whether or not to go smoke-free in their establishments.  But when the City Council wants to ban outdoor smoking at these restaurants, that’s when we – smokers and non-smokers, alike – must challenge them,” said McCalla.
“The premium cigar and pipe tobacco business is not ‘big tobacco.’ For the most part, our 2,000 members are a collection of mom-and-pop neighborhood businesses that employ local people and pay local, state and federal taxes.  People enjoy our products as they would a fine wine or specialty beer with friends. And we will fight for our right to do so, even on Los Angeles’ restaurant patios,” he said.
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Contact:
Tony Tortorici
678/493-0313
tony@tortoricipr.com


Los Angeles City Councilor Claims that Secondhand Smoke is More Harmful than Active Smoking; Pushes Ban on Smoking Everywhere Outdoors
August 13, 2008
By Michael Siegel
According to Los Angeles City Councilor Bernard Parks, breathing in secondhand smoke is more dangerous than actively smoking. In a commentary in City Watch and a press release, Parks uses this “fact” to justify his proposed ordinance which would ban smoking in virtually every outdoor location in Los Angeles. Anti-smoking groups, including Breathe LA, are supporting the ordinance.
According to the commentary: “Research has shown that inhaling secondhand smoke is more harmful than actually smoking, primarily due to the unfiltered nature of the smoke and its having been cooled by the air.”
The ordinance would ban smoking in every outdoors location where people “reasonably congregate.” Essentially, this means that there would be no outdoors smoking anywhere, with the exception of some dark deserted alleys. If enacted, this would be the most restrictive smoking ban in the nation.
The Rest of the Story:
I now understand why anti-smoking advocates and groups are distorting the truth. Because they are promoting such extreme proposals that go far beyond the documented scientific evidence that they need to create their own facts in order to justify these proposals.
You can’t credibly argue that smoking needs to be banned everywhere outdoors to protect the health of nonsmokers using the actual truth about the severity of health risk from secondhand smoke exposure. There simply is no evidence that a few wisps of secondhand smoke, as one might encounter from someone smoking on a sidewalk or in a street, parking lot, or park puts people’s health at risk and represents a significant public health problem.
The only way to advance these policies, then, is to artificially build up the severity of the harms of secondhand smoke so that you can convince people that any exposure – even a few wisps of smoke – is a severe health hazard.
This, I now realize, is the impetus behind the widespread fallacious claims that are being made by over 100 anti-smoking groups about the cardiovascular effects of brief secondhand smoke exposure.
I no longer believe that this distortion of the science, which goes right up to the level of the Surgeon General (who claimed that brief secondhand smoke exposure was sufficient to cause heart disease and lung cancer), represents a simple, innocent mistake.
It is now clear that this is part of a new agenda (one that I never thought was part of the movement) to extend smoking bans beyond workplaces, restaurants, bars, and other places where there is substantial exposure. The movement is now to virtually ban all smoking outside of the home, so that no nonsmoker ever has to even see a smoker in public.
There simply is no credible alternative explanation for claims – like this one – which are so absurd that they are patently false on their face. You need only think about it for about 3 seconds before you realize that secondhand smoke exposure cannot possibly be more harmful than active smoking.
The epidemiologic evidence obviously does not support such a conclusion. The relative risk of lung cancer associated with chronic active smoking is about 17. The relative risk for lung cancer associated with chronic secondhand smoke exposure is about 1.3. That’s a 13-fold difference. It is intuitively clear that smoking is worse than breathing in secondhand smoke. This isn’t an example of stretching or exaggerating the facts – it’s an example of creating (i.e., fabricating) them.
I should point out that if you take this message seriously, then a rational nonsmoker might actually start smoking. After all, according to the message, it’s better to smoke yourself than to be exposed to secondhand smoke. The message truly undermines the severe health effects of active smoking because it states that active smoking is less harmful than secondhand smoke exposure. Thus, the statement is not only fallacious, but it is a dangerous one which undermines years of education of the public about the severe harms of active smoking.
While the main reason why I object to the fabrication of the science is that I view it as unethical, I wish to point out that I also think it undermines our cause of protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. It gives the public the impression (rightly so, apparently) that our goal is not just to save lives and prevent serious medical conditions but instead, that our goal is simply to protect nonsmokers from ever having to breathe in a wisp of secondhand smoke or see a smoker. It makes it appear that we are trying to prohibit smoking through the back door and that de facto prohibition is our real agenda, rather than a legitimate public health interest in protecting nonsmokers from a severe health threat.
To use a half-marathon analogy, I feel like I have been running a half-marathon and I get to the finish line and stop, but everyone else keeps running. I thought the goal was to provide a safe working environment for all employees and to protect nonsmokers from a substantial health hazard in certain outdoors locations where they cannot easily avoid tobacco smoke exposure. Instead, the movement just keeps on going, trying to ban smoking in every possible outdoors location and even starting to infringe upon the private home.
I feel all alone at the finish line, wondering where everyone has gone.
The rest of the story is that I have come to the conclusion that the distortion of the science by anti-smoking groups is not merely an innocent mistake or an uninformed interpretation of scientific evidence. It is, instead, a deliberate attempt to promote an extremist agenda by fabricating scientific evidence that will support an agenda that is simply not supported by the scientific truth.
Read More


Enough is Enough: We should Ban Smoking in LA
By Bernard Parks  August 12, 2008
http://www.citywatchla.com/content/view/1507/75/

No-smoking rule expands at Stanford med school
August, 2007 – By Lisa M. Krieger
The Stanford University School of Medicine has declared its entire campus a tobacco-free zone, with no smoking allowed on the patios, seating areas or open areas bounded by Welch Road, Pasteur Drive and Campus Drive West.


Capital, L.A. ban smoking in parks
August 10, 2007
By M.S. Enkoji – Bee Staff Writer
On a recent visit to a downtown city park, Sacramento City Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy caught a whiff of cigarette smoke.
It’s a thing of the past, she said.
Sacramento’s smoking ban in parks became law at the end of July. Backers anticipate quick, largely voluntary compliance and hope such smoking bans gain statewide momentum.
This week, Los Angeles became the nation’s largest city to ban smoking in city parks, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed a law at a Griffith Park ceremony. It takes effect in 30 days.
Park smoking bans now cover California’s largest urban areas, putting the state in the forefront of a growing national trend, said Robert Berger, a spokesman for the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Los Angeles County.
Can a statewide ban in urban parks be far behind?
Not too far, Sheedy said. “It’s so prevalent now, and it’s moving so rapidly,” she said.
The Los Angeles ban, added to Sacramento’s, is significant in the smoke-free movement, said Carolyn Martin, vice chairwoman of Sacramento County’s Tobacco Control Coalition.
“It sends a message throughout the state,” she said.
San Francisco and San Diego also ban smoking in city parks.
A renowned critic of smoking restrictions agreed the tide will be hard to turn, particularly since local bans also have been imposed at many beaches, stadiums and other outdoor venues.
Jacob Sullum, senior editor of Reason magazine, argues that the aim of smoking bans is not to protect anyone. “The main motivation for public health and activists is to get smokers to quit. You’re literally thrown out onto the street if you want to smoke,” he said.
Sullum, author of the book, “For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health,” writes for the Los Angeles libertarian think- tank, the Reason Foundation.
“I think people generally see this as less reasonable because it’s outside,” he said of the park bans.
The idea of discouraging smokers where they will be seen — maybe emulated — by children is another fallacy, Sullum said.
The Sacramento ban doesn’t include golf courses, and some of the city’s larger parks will initially have restricted areas instead of curb-to-curb bans.
In Sacramento and Los Angeles, signs, education and peer pressure rather than police are expected to largely enforce the bans. Violations are civil, not criminal, penalties.
“It is not the intent to send out the smoking police throughout the park system,” Berger said.
Civil fines could be as much as $250 in Los Angeles and $150 in Sacramento.
“The idea is to change the social norm around smoking,” Berger said.
Studies back the need to restrict smoking even outdoors, Martin said.
In a Stanford University report released earlier this year, researchers Wayne Ott and Neil Klepeis found that — within a few feet of a smoker — exposure to secondhand smoke could be the same outdoors as indoors.
Parks provide one of the few affordable entertainment options for families with children, said Sheedy, who believes the ban will protect children.
Signs are expected to go up in Sacramento’s city parks the week of Aug. 19.
Sacramento County has no plans for an overall smoking ban at its parks, said Gary Kukkola, interim director of the county’s Department of Regional Parks.
State law already bans smoking in playground areas, he said. In the expansive stretches of regional parks, such as the American River Parkway, perhaps there is enough room to avoid secondhand smoke, if there are smokers, he said.
“In areas like the parkway,” he said, “many are out there for biking, hiking and consequently, smoking isn’t always consistent with all those activities.”


Los Angeles City Council bans smoking in all parks
August 9, 2007
BY CHRISTINA HANFORD
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously gave its final approval to an ordinance banning smoking in all of the city’s public parks Wednesday, August 1st.
The council voted 12-0 to expand an existing ordinance that prohibits smoking at “certain locations in public parks and at beaches,” to prohibit smoking “in all city parks.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the Smoke-Free Parks Ordinance into law Wednesday, August 8th, and it will go into effect the week of September 17th, according to Darryl Ryan, a spokesman for the mayor.
This move comes three months after a fire — believed to have been started by a man who fell asleep while smoking in a brush area — swept through and destroyed 817 acres of Griffith Park.
The move also comes in the midst of one of the driest seasons on record.
“We live in such a climate [with such] dryness that if someone drops a cigarette it can start a fire,” said City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the local area. “This [ordinance] has to do with public health, public safety and environmental issues.”
Rosendahl also points out the importance of protecting children from second-hand smoke, something from which there is no risk-free level of exposure, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report.
“Our parks are visited by kids and we need to protect the health of our youths,” Rosendahl says. “Kids shouldn’t have to breathe in second-hand smoke.”
The expanded ordinance will require that the Department of Recreation and Parks post and maintain “No Smoking” signs throughout the parks in conspicuous locations, deputy city attorney Adrienne Khorasanee said.
Violators will be charged with an infraction and will be subject to a fine of $250 per violation.
The motion was made by Councilman Tom LaBonge, chairman of the City Council Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee and vice chair of the Public Works Committee.
After the fire at Griffith Park, “I said we should possibly accelerate this [motion],” LaBonge said. “People will have to find another place to smoke a cigarette.
“I hope we can have full cooperation. [This ordinance is] good for health. It’s good for the parks.” LaBonge also pointed out that, currently, “a lot of cigarette butts” pollute the grounds of the city’s parks.
“Cigarettes also contribute to trash in the storm drains and obviously eventually into ocean pollution,” Rosendahl said. “By reducing litter, it, of course, helps us meet our federal water quality mandates.”
In 2002, the city banned smoking within 25 feet of playground equipment, bleachers, backstops, picnic areas and sports courts and fields.
And in 2004, it banned smoking on the city’s beaches.
Since that time, other cities in the county and across the state have banned smoking in parks and other public areas.
The City of Santa Monica prohibits smoking in all parks, at all city beaches, in government service waiting areas and most areas of the Santa Monica Pier.
Last year, the Santa Monica City Council approved a far-reaching outdoor smoking ban to provide the public greater protection from second-hand smoke, a “toxic air contaminant,” and its negative health effects.
For the City of Los Angeles, smoking will be prohibited in all city parks, with exceptions for the following areas:
… city golf courses, except at Roosevelt Golf Course, Wilson Golf Course, Harding Golf Course and Tregnan Golf Academy, where smoking is allowed in designated areas;
… areas within parks that are specified in a permit issued by the Recreation and Parks Film Office authorizing smoking for filming purposes only and by actors only; and
… designated smoking areas at the Autry National Center, the Greek Theater and the Los Angeles Zoo.
Of the expanded ordinance, Rosendahl said, “It’s a win for all of us from a public health standpoint, from a public safety standpoint and from an environmental safety standpoint.”


LA City Council considers smoking ban in parks for dry weather
July 21, 2007  
LOS ANGELES—The City Council has tentatively agreed to ban smoking in all city parks, aiming to lower the risk of wildfires during extremely dry conditions.
The council made a tentative decision Friday and could give final approval to the ordinance next week.
City laws prohibit smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds and at city beaches, but the amended ordinance calls for a full ban on smoking in city parks.
Smokers lighting up at a park would be cited for an infraction and required to pay a fine of up to $250, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
The Recreation and Parks Department would post “no smoking” signs throughout city parks.
There would be some exceptions. Smoking would be allowed on city-operated golf courses, and in designated areas at the Autry National Center, the Greek Theater and the Los Angeles Zoo.
Smoking would also be allowed for filming purposes if studios apply for a permit.
The amended ordinance comes after a fire ripped through the city’s famed Griffith Park in May.
Authorities are investigating whether the fire was started by a homeless man who fell asleep while smoking.


Dry Weather Prompts Possible Smoking Ban In Parks

May 16, 2007
(CBS) LOS ANGELES Parks commissioners agreed Wednesday to ask the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office to write an ordinance that bans smoking and open flames in most parks, because of record dry conditions this year.

If approved by the City Council, the “urgent” ordinance would take effect immediately, according to Kevin Regan, assistant general manager of the Recreation and Parks Department.

The proposed ban would be seasonal, lasting from April 1 to Nov. 1 each year, according to a Recreation and Park Department report. Recreation and Parks Department employees and the City Attorney’s Office will draw up a list of parks considered to be at high-risk for fires, according to the report.

“We have found that the most common cause of accidental fires in city parks were attributed to smoking and cooking,” Regan told the commission.

State law already bans smoking within 25 feet of a playground. In 2002, smoking was banned in most city and county parks, though some parks have designated smoking areas.

The latest ordinance comes after a fire that swept through Griffith park, charring about 820 acres last week, about a fifth of the park. Authorities said the fire may have been started by a homeless man who fell asleep smoking a cigarette.

The Southland is weathering its driest season on record, with only about 3.2 inches of rain in the metro area since July 1.

Much of the burn area is unstable and closed to the public, as city crews remove charred trees and stabilize trails, according to Regan.

“We want to make the park as safe as possible as soon as possible,” Regan told the commission.

In other action, the panel agreed to set up an account so people could make donations toward the restoration of Griffith Park.

“We have received an unprecedented number of calls, e-mails and other correspondence from the public wanting to donate their time and money, so we wanted to set up a special account for these funds,” Regan said.

On Friday, City Councilman Tom LaBonge, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a $50 million emergency repair plan for the park over the next decade.

Yesterday, LaBonge called for establishing a task force of city departments and local neighborhood groups to develop a fire recovery program at the urban park.

He also called for building weather monitoring stations, creating a volunteer Griffith Park Conservation Corps and to develop a brochure detailing the park’s features.

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