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J. Kurt Roberts Lodi has no business expanding anti-smoking law

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J. Kurt Roberts

Posted: Saturday, February 26, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:51 am, Sat Feb 26, 2011.

In 1990, the city of Lodi passed what was then seen to be a somewhat progressive yet controversial ordinance that prohibited cigarette smoking in most all public places. Anti-smoking advocates rejoiced as Lodi smokers were seemingly relegated to second-class status.

As a sincere believer in private property rights, I was against that ordinance then and remain so today. I mean, if a restaurant proprietor wishes to welcome the totally legal act of smoking in his establishment, then that should be his right.

Just as it should be each potential customers' right to choose to frequent an eatery that chooses to not allow smoking.

I've been called insensitive more than once, but sitting in the non-smoking area of a restaurant when smoking was permitted in restaurants, just never really bothered me personally.

Now in 2011, the Lodi City Council will begin to discuss the merits of expanding existing anti-smoking laws that prohibit smokers from lighting up within 20 feet of public buildings, to privately owned business as well.

Some welcome this as a thing that would make the air we all breath a little fresher, especially to those with existing respiratory conditions or those hyper-sensitive to pretty much any and all chemicals everywhere.

Others see this as yet another attempt to infringe on their rights, a silly and totally unnecessary step towards a cradle-to-gravetype nanny state. I tend to agree with the latter argument.

We all know, even smokers, that smoking is a pretty disgusting habit. Having the smell of cigarettes dripping from ones clothes is repulsive, but it is legal.

As one who only enjoys the occasional cigar, I personally would not be affected at all by a new city ordinance like the one being discussed. In all actuality, it would probably really only affect the select few businesses that have chosen to raise the issue to combat not only the smoking issue, but probably to combat what appears more than anything to be a loitering problem.

I mean, come on. Smoking out of doors is, to most people at least, fairly unobtrusive behavior. For it to become that objectionable, I would think that one would have to be out there puffing away in very close proximity for quite some time. However, there is the possibility that certain businesses in town allow all their employees to take their breaks at the same time, which could create a rather large cloud three to four times a day. Lunches are one thing, but employees can be told where to take their breaks.

And let's face it: Existing California law states that one must be at least 20 feet away from a public building. Twenty feet is, to most people at least, seven whole steps. I'm not too sure that making somebody walk seven steps is going to make anybody stop doing anything. If the city really wants to make a difference, it should just ban smoking altogether within say, a block or so of any business.

And what about the rights of tobacco shops and other retail outlets that sell tobacco? Is the city really ready to ban smoking in front of these establishments?

Balancing civil liberties against what some say is the greater public good is always tricky. But I think that if there is one lesson that the city of Lodi should have learned after spending millions of dollars over the last several years addressing litigation on a wide array of issues, it is that we need fewer laws and fewer regulations in this world ... not more.

J. Kurt Roberts can be reached at jkurtroberts@att.net.

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  • Brian Dockter posted at 10:22 am on Sun, Mar 6, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    Can you give us some examples why you don't think politicians are opportunists?
    This is not a loaded question unless you think only Republican politicians are opportunists.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 10:17 am on Sun, Mar 6, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Joanne wrote:

    No way...! We actually have a conspiracy theorist in Lodi who believes it is a government/scientific community/whatever plot to blame tobacco for lung cancer? We are beginning to complete the circle here in Lodi. Tell me, Carol, just for my own personal research, is Global Warming a made up story also? What other scientific hypotheses have you determined, through your thorough research, are entirely bogus?


    No one is saying cigarettes and it's smoke cannot be attributable to some of the lung cancer.
    Nor is anyone saying human activity cannot be attributable to some of the global warming. In the grand scheme of things, if the government can make enough of a case
    on a given issue in order to justify raising taxes it will. An example is how Al Gore
    has succeeded in making his global warming case. And I doubt if the government will ever make cigarettes illegal if they can slap taxes on it to fund programs such as
    health awareness and residential treatment centers for recovering drug addicts. It seems to me it's quite obvious the government has no problem capitalizing on one persons vice in order to fund programs that heal. I'm not too sure I agree with this approach. But politicians are opportunists just like everyone else.

  • shawn sanborn posted at 7:05 pm on Tue, Mar 1, 2011.

    shawn sanborn Posts: 15

    I f I remember right, wasnt lodi the first city to go Nazi on smoking? I am not surprised in the least at this new possible ordinance against a legal product. There is a county in ca. a small one that is a (dry tobacco county) can your beleive it? When will this end? So soon you will not be able to walk on a public sidewalk and smoke because you will b too close to some form of store city owned building or school. Then what? you cant smoke in your driveway? Your own house? Where does it stop? It doesnt! When you keep raming propaganda down peoples throats, eventualy they get use to it and accept it. Kinda like long term brainwashing isnt it?

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:33 am on Tue, Mar 1, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Whoa...actually went to the "smokershistory.com" website...run, by the way by, Ms. Carol Thompson of Madison, Wisconsin. She seems to be an extremely angry woman for a smoker...maybe when she writes her articles she's been off the "juice" for an hour or so.

    Hoppin' days in Madison lately!

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:25 am on Tue, Mar 1, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    No way...! We actually have a conspiracy theorist in Lodi who believes it is a government/scientific community/whatever plot to blame tobacco for lung cancer? We are beginning to complete the circle here in Lodi. Tell me, Carol, just for my own personal research, is Global Warming a made up story also? What other scientific hypotheses have you determined, through your thorough research, are entirely bogus?

  • Josh Morgan posted at 3:48 pm on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 541

    Carol.....are you a smoker?

  • Carol Thompson posted at 9:14 am on Sun, Feb 27, 2011.

    Carol Thompson Posts: 1

    You let them get away with spreading health lies, so what did you expect?

    The anti-smokers commit scientific fraud by ignoring over 50 studies showing that human papillomaviruses cause at least 1/4 of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to get this virus for socioeconomic reasons. The anti-smokers use studies based on lifestyle questionnaires, so they're cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers from HPV. They commit the same fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco.


    All their so-called "independent" reports were ring-led by the same guy, Jonathan M. Samet, including the Surgeon General Reports, the EPA report, the IARC report, and the ASHRAE report, and he's now the chairman of the FDA Committee on Tobacco. His clique excludes all the REAL scientists from their echo chamber to make them "unanimous!"


    When government commits fraud to deprive us of our liberties it violates our rights just as much as purposely throwing innocent people in prison. And government lies about phony smoking dangers are terrorism, just like calling in phony bomb threats.


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