Stamp out those butts

June 20, 2009

Prepare to do this to your cigarettes if you plan on visiting Moorpark anytime soon.

Prepare to do this to your cigarettes if you plan on visiting Moorpark anytime soon.

Calabasas started it. Thousand Oaks has enacted similar guidelines. Camarillo is thinking about it.

Now Moorpark becomes the next city in the greater Southland area to ban smoking in public places. And judging by the online reaction in the past day, the news has set many people alight (so to speak).

Most of the ire and criticism on the decision is based around beliefs that smoking is a personal liberty, and that government shouldn’t interfere with personal liberties … especially if it harms nobody directly.

Does it?

Before Moorpark came into the picture, we reported on the issue a few months back and talked to some of those same critics in Ventura County. The reactions were the same: people should have the right to smoke where and when they want to. And secondhand smoke? That’s a whole lot of malarkey, they said.

The other side of the ashtray contends, in not so many words, that smoking, as an activity, should be cut away like the cancer it causes.

But health issues aside, the thing I’m wondering is: how long before similar legislative actions start taking hold up the Ventura County coast? If places like Thousand Oaks and Moorpark in East County have anti-smoking rules firmly in place, when will cities like Oxnard and Ventura — the county’s main hubs — establish similar, identical laws? Or, for that matter, Ojai, the county’s adopted health Mecca?

Pro-smoking lobbyists, and to a lesser extent, conspiracy theorists, may opine that these are the steps along the path to making smoking illegal in the sometime near future.

Remember, if that happens, tobacco = cannabis in the rule books.

But anything is possible. After the Moorpark news was announced yesterday, a colleague of mine surmised what our society would be like if someone could be thrown in jail for dealing tobacco.

It doesn’t sound too far off, I said, from sci-fi movies (i.e. Demolition Man) where sex is outlawed, and every restaurant is a Taco Bell.

You can be sure that if the last part ever happens, you’d better put out your menthol 100 before ordering that burrito.

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