From One Smoker to L.A.’s City Council: You’re Going About This All Wrong

Before the L.A. City Council starts voting on a smoking ban to limit where I can light up, they might consider talking to a few of us smokers and trying to see things from our perspective.

For example, I’d like to consider myself to be one of those responsible smokers. I don’t smoke around little kids or big ones for that matter. When I am transporting non-smokers in my car, I conscientiously don’t smoke around them. When I have guests over to my house who aren’t smokers, for the duration of their visit, neither am I. I’m even supportive of friends trying to kick the habit by not smoking around them or caving into their request to have just one of my cigarettes. In fact, I’m so responsible with my smoking that I make sure that I never run out of cigarettes, I keep mints handy, an assortment of fragranced lotions and perfumes in my purse, and most importantly, that I smoke when I feel the need to therefore keeping peace, harmony, and balance in the universe because smokers without smokes make for terrible co-workers and co-habitants.

Look—if I had the chance to do it over again and simply overlook my mom’s cigarettes lying so carefree on the bookcase within reach, I would. Trust me—with today’s economic forecast and the price of cigarettes, that’s one habit I could really afford to kick.

Like most smokers, I am not oblivious to the affects of cigarettes on the human body—with our without those television ads.

This is the thing, I’m going to quit smoking sooner or later. It’s been a longtime goal of mine—really. In fact, several years ago I made the switch from regular Menthol Newport’s to Newport Mediums. A little after that, I switched to Newport Lights which I later found out weren’t so light so now I just smoke Newport Gold’s—which I believe are the new and improved name for Newport Lights. It’s a process. One that I am reminded of after every tennis game when I am gasping for air and about to keel over and pass out—I say to myself, I’ve got to quit smoking—sooner rather than later. Really I do.
Banning me from smoking ‘where there is no expectation of involuntary contact with people’ isn’t going to make me quit that much sooner though.

First, it’s going to piss me off because I can think of at least ten much more pressing issues that the Los Angeles City Council should be focusing its energies—including that small issue of the city’s budget, which ironically benefits from every pack of cigarettes sold within the city’s limits. Something I won’t easily forget it come March 2011.

Second, my office water cooler is an ashtray. So depending on how far I have to go to smoke, my quick trips downstairs to the front of the building where I mingle with my fellow smokers is going become that much longer if I have hike a mile and a half just to have a smoke in some remote area where the chance of running into a non-smoker is slim to none all of which might drive my work performance down. Who needs that in today’s job market? And do you want to be the cause of even more people losing their job?

Third, no one wants to be around smokers who want to but can’t smoke. Don’t believe me, trying riding a plane with a group of smokers for more than three hours. Depending on how far the City Council extends this ban, you’re talking about chaos not only in the workplace but also on the way to and from the workplace and opening the door to the kind of domestic problems that we really don’t need at this time. As if we don’t have enough issues just living in Los Angeles period.

Allowing smokers to smoke believe it or not, really does keep the peace in more ways than one.

Now I hate to hit below the belt, but L.A. is an equal opportunity killer what with the smog, traffic, and gang violence to name a few. I don’t choose to inhale smog but I have no choice add to that I don’t see any city ordinance’s being proposed that would keep my neighbor’s ‘71 Gremlin and the black stuff that it spits out off the road. What about citywide bans on gang members that allows to be walk the streets only ‘where there is no expectation of involuntary contact with people.’

Look—most cigarette smokers are law-abiding citizens just trying make it through another day. I know you’ve got to look like you’re doing something down there at city hall, but this ain’t it. Your focus should be on the DWPs continuing over taxation of city residents, the city’s budget deficit, and curbing gang violence. Those are your winning issues—not banning smokers from smoking in public areas. Spend more time focusing on those issues that might drive a person to smoke a pack a day—for example L.A.’s rush hour traffic.

But if after all I’ve said still doesn’t move you to re-consider, maybe this will—smokers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, districts and tax brackets, and we vote. Come Re-Election Day a ban like this might not bode so well with us at the ballot box. And no—that’s not a threat, just a reality.

Now who’s got a light?

The Court of Public Opinion