Welcome to Banarillo

April 15, 2010

“Welcome to Banarillo, where you can’t say, smoke, drink, or do anything.”

There’s been lots of talk about Oxnard re-imagining and re-branding itself into a fresh, new image, and it seems like a tough task. They’ve got vicious gang wars and ghetto areas that rival Third World countries.

Yet you look at Camarillo and there’s a whole lot of … well, there’s not a whole lot of anything, actually. So why is it that they may have an even harder time turning their image around?

The truth is because it’s already changing to a place some critics say allows no freedom to do anything.

In the last year, city officials banned a safe sleep program, unlike places like Ventura, which permit homeless people to camp in their cars.

Three weeks ago, I blogged about Camarillo’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Now, city officials are clamping down on smoking of the legal kind: cigarettes.

Under the new rules, smoking is permitted only in the most scant of public places, including dining and recreation areas. Motels and hotels must also designate a whopping 80 percent of their rooms as non-smoking.

Lots of people are up in arms about this. Even non-smokers, who believe that a ban such as this isn’t about health; it’s an invasion of privacy.

But much like my previous blog posting today about outdated plans, in the 1960s, there was less awareness to the dangers of smoking. Today, there is awareness, and all of it points to the fact that smoking is bad for you and those around you.

Another study released today even revealed that smokers are more likely to be depressed people.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported that among male smokers aged 40-54, 55 percent suffer from depression. Among women aged 20-39, 50 percent are depressed.

The way I see it, you can moan and groan all you like about how city officials don’t know what’s best for you … but when you look at some of these numbers (cancer stats notwithstanding), they actually do know what’s best for you and me.

Camarillo’s decision follows suit from cities like Calabasas, the strictest Southern California city in terms of smoking regulations.

So if Camarillo is slowing becoming known as “BANarillo,” it’s an image change that we should welcome with open arms … and lungs.

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