Paul Little Paul Little

Agreeing to disagree

Opponents of the forthcoming apartment smoking ban find common ground: it ain’t gonna work

By Jake Armstrong 04/21/2011

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Paul Little and Nancy Sagatelian won’t be sharing a cigarette to mark the passage of a ban on smoking in Pasadena’s condos and apartments, which could become reality in about three months.
 
But Little, head of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, whose membership opposes such a crackdown inside the city’s 33,700 apartment and condo units by 2014, and Sagatelian, one of the most vocal proponents of a faster and further-reaching prohibition, do agree the ban will be practically unenforceable if the Pasadena City Council approves it.
 
That’s because the council stripped the proposed ordinance of the one feature that would give it real teeth in addressing a problem 72 percent of apartment dwellers want halted altogether — the declaration of secondhand smoke as a public nuisance, which would have given city enforcers and residents much wider latitude in where they confront offenders, who would face a far-stiffer $500 fine rather than the $100 now proposed, they say.
 
Moreover, a 2008 ban the city placed on smoking in most public places has generated just 10 citations out of the complaint-based system the city uses to enforce that ordinance, leaving even more enforcement questions swirling around a city trimming staff to cope with a $5 million budget shortfall. Add to that the fact that money for enforcing the apartment smoking ban would come from the same pot that funds enforcement of the 2008 outdoor ban and pays for inspectors to ensure stores aren’t selling smokes to minors, an effort that reduced the illegal sales rates to almost zero in recent years. About $58,000 is in that fund, which is filled with fees placed on tobacco sellers, and $8,000 of that will be used toward administrative expenses, according to city staff. 
 
“The reality is, it is very difficult in any circumstances to enforce something like this and, given that they have a little opportunity to prove where smoke originated, I think they’re going to be about as effective on this as they are on the others,” Little said.
 
Sagatelian said the council’s removal of the nuisance declaration, and the lengthy lag time before the ordinance takes effect in 100 percent of units, marked its “narrow-minded” approach. “I don’t know how much they are going to enforce this one, especially without the nuisance portion. They took the teeth out of it,” said Sagatelian, though she added that any tobacco ban is a step in the right direction.
 
Statice Wilmore, the city’s tobacco control coordinator, said any additional costs or tweaks to the ordinance can take place a year after it passes, which is when the council, which voted unanimously for staff to craft an ordinance, wants staff to return with a report on how the ordinance worked in its first year. She said it could take longer than that before the smoking public catches on. “It really takes about a year to 18 months to really allow for the public to get used to the enforcement and to get used to the new laws that have been adopted,” she said.
 
Little said he doesn’t want to see the city spend any more money on smoking enforcement. “Chasing a smoker here and there doesn’t seem to be a high spending priority. But if they are going to do it out of existing funds, that’s fine, because they don’t really do anything now with it anyway,” he said.
 
City staff is expected to return to the council in less than two months with a draft ordinance, which would begin with a ban on smoking in apartment common areas and balconies, for council members to consider. 

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Comments

The primary purpoase of such laws as this to a police state is its harrassment value. Consequently, after the cops break down your door for some "I thought I heard a crime being committed" excuse, they'll still claim the right to search the dwelling for anything else they can use, say like an ash tray holding a cigarette butt.

Upon any such a discovery, California's "Don't-need-no-4th-Amendment, law-enforcement crowd will so gleefully justify their own Constitutional contempt! Besides, the revenue generated is almost pure profit.

In these modern times, if a cop stops you, HE WILL issue a punitive-tax citation.

Now that's punitive tax collection with an attitude!

DanD

posted by DanD on 4/21/11 @ 06:51 p.m.

I'd like aggressive enforcement of cigarette butt litter.

I'd like to see a 5-10 cent per cigarette (so more than a buck a pack) CRV type fee added to the price. This fee can be redeemed when the butts are turned in... just like with plastic bottles and cans.

Why are *most* smokers so nasty when it comes to littering?

posted by True Freedom on 4/22/11 @ 12:47 p.m.

Really TF?

So, now we'll start seeing the commonly homeless along with the frequent illegal migrant's grandparents going through every trash can in greater Pasadena and beyond for the purpose of collecting CRV cigarette butts. Also gotta' expand that tax-collecting government infrastructure to law-enforcingly manage such a boondoggle!

For that matter, here's an even better idea, just don't let the cigarette pack companies put filters on their products. Then you can sell the filtering systems separately, with a value-added tax.

In the meantime, it used to be that most institutions and commercial properties at one time had on their premesis a prepared infrastructure of cigarette-butt containment. You know, smoking areas and ash trays. Then it became economically, politically, and even legally prohibitive to provide such as service to the general public. In the meantime, "most" smokers don't even commit the act of inhaling their addiction in public anymore, alot like pot-smokers.

CRV is just another euphamism for "tax." It really is so "progressive" to fundamentally "sin"-tax anything considered nasty or otherwise socially unacceptable out of existence. In the end, it's all about America's "War-on-Drugs" culture. Eventually, civil liberty becomes the ultimate sin.

DanD

posted by DanD on 4/27/11 @ 08:20 a.m.

I don't like gov't intervention any more than you do, and if cigarette users were part of the solution instead of being the problem... we wouldn't need stuff like this.

The CRV, actually, is extremely effective in boosting recycling rates. And yes, imagine how clean our street corners, flower beds, parkways would be if they were picked clean everyday by folks picking up "nickels".

What would you suggest as a method for reducing/ eliminating cigarette butt LITTER? Don't tell me putting ashtrays all over the place, because every car in existence has one.. yet smokers almost universally flick their butts out the windows.. they are simply too lazy to do the right thing.

posted by True Freedom on 4/27/11 @ 10:48 a.m.
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