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West Hollywood’s City Council is set to review the recommendations of a task force formed to study outdoor smoking in and around bars and restaurants on Tuesday.   What follows is a letter sent to City Council members today in advance of that discussion.  What do you think? Email the council at ccouncil@weho.org or attend the council meeting on Tuesday to have your voice heard.

Council,

I wanted to write in advance of the deliberations on the outdoor smoking ordinance to let you know that I’m deeply troubled by the prospective enactment of this law.  I remain more than a bit raw after feeling others tell me how to live my life with Prop 8, and to me, I am reminded of that when I think about this proposed ordinance.  I find it disturbing that our local government would try to tell individuals how to live their lives when existing laws already provide substantial safeguards to protect the public from the activity in question… smoking in public.

The smoking bans in California that moved smoking outdoors solved 98% of the issues around smoking in public spaces.  Most smokers grudgingly acknowledge that it was a good decision in retrospect.  On the other hand, trying to govern it on sidewalks and outdoors is not likely to be met with the same success.  The impact of smoking indoors was obvious, while the complaints about outdoor smoking are far from that.

Non-smokers in the City of West Hollywood are NOT being barraged by second hand smoke. While it may be tempting to think of the current proposal as balancing the interests of smokers and non-smokers, please remember that the crusade against smoking has already been fought and decided overwhelmingly in the favor of non-smokers and public health advocates — in a meaningful way — by banning smoking indoors.

There is probably no more dramatic example that we can all relate to than the smell of stale smoke coming off of us in the shower after a night out when smoking was permitted indoors. Absolutely nothing like that is occurring today when people enjoy the fine nightlife and restaurants in our city. Whatever outdoor smoke exists can easily be a avoided by those that wish to do so. There is NO epidemic of discourteous smokers at bars and restaurants who light up a cigarette in areas that are otherwise smoke-free.

The previous ban on indoor smoking also had the delightful unintended impact of creating a great number of attractive outdoor areas that have been designed to accommodate smokers. Bars and restaurants should NOT be prohibited from trying to make these outdoor accommodations for smoking clientele. It seems highly illogical to demand smoke-free access to current smoking areas if having that access is going to obviously result in their elimination in the long run.  This is clearly a case of “cutting off the nose to spite the face.”

It’s probably not even necessary to try to convince you that this isn’t a pressing problem, which makes the potential passage of the ordinance even more disturbing. The city should not be in the business of backing behavioral edicts from activists without compelling reasons.

Please put this proposed ordinance to bed, at least for the time being, and let’s see how things work out for the surrounding areas for awhile.  Or even better, put it firmly to bed and invite the business community to continue building these attractive outdoor areas.

Thanks for taking the time to read my concerns.

Regards,

Darin Weeks

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Opinion: Outdoor Dining at Risk with Smoking Ordinance, 2.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

What do you think?

7 Comments

  1. Cal says:

    I disagree. I don’t think the proposed smoking ordinance has anythign to do with telling you how to live your life. Smoking is a habit that affects anyone within a certain vacinity. Even if science can’t determine the health effect, I can tell you that the presence of smoke is a nuisance to my nostrils. I can never enjoy a meal “el fresco” because I know I will be surrounded by smokers.

    In unrelated, but equally annoying news, I can’t even have the windows to my apartment open because the smokers in the building across don’t pollute their own living space, they smoke outside and pollute mine.

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  2. Pete P says:

    “Most smokers grudgingly acknowledge that it was a good decision in retrospect.”

    Nice try buddy. When smoking bans were first proposed in the 1990s every smoker and restaurant/bar owner was making similar predictions that bars and restaurants would be closing left and right and that it would be the end of business as we knew it. Well, guess what, NONE of their predictions came true. Instead, these businesses continued to thrive. Smokers are generally an extremely inconsiderate bunch who don’t care if they are blowing smoke in your face or throwing their butts out their windows. It’s a ridiculous habit that is disturbing and threatening to the rest of us who don’t smoke.

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  3. admin says:

    Thanks for your comments, Cal and Pete. As I point out in the post, many outdoor bar and restaurant areas that exist were created explicitly as a result of the indoor smoking ban. That’s a fact, and those areas have continued to be considered an essential requirement for many new bars and restaurants since then for that reason. It’s quite simple… if you take away the primary reason that many bars and restaurants build these facilities, they are no longer going to build as many of them. There really isn’t anything that can be disputed about this.

    Further, as non-smokers who find the smoke disgusting and offensive, why wouldn’t you want to allow bars and restaurants to isolate the smokers in a dedicated area away from you? With the current proposal, you will likely still encounter smokers somewhere nearby the establishment. Perhaps it will even waft into the restaurant like it does in Cal’s apartment. You would be better off if the ordinance REQUIRED establishments to have a smoking area that kept it away from you.

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  4. Denis Redman says:

    If you wish to destroy your body with a deadly addiction – do it in private where it won’t have an effect on MY health. If you wanted to spit in people’s food while dining on a patio, would you fight for the right to continue to do that, too? Smoking in public is a very similar thing when I’m forced to breath it in. If you chose to shoot heroin while sitting nearby on a patio it would be just as icky, but it wouldn’t impact me physically…. smoking does!

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  5. ernest says:

    Smoking=population control : my mum smoked and drank while she was pregnant with me and I turned out fine-just ask my parole officer.

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  6. Sean says:

    WeHo – ban it, I’m on board.

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  7. sKREET_muZIC says:

    Yes! Ban the nasty stuff. Why should i be forced to breathe smoke that just came out of someone’s lungs if I want to enjoy an outdoor meal? It’s disgusting.

    A Weho resident for the smoking ban.

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