Skip to comments.Beaches & Buttheads: Don't bother packing your smokes.
Posted on 06/24/2004 9:32:45 AM PDT by xsysmgr
Here we go again. First it was the health police in Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Malibu. Then the buttheads in Los Angeles County. Now it's the legislature, about to consider a bill to shield every sun worshipper statewide from the tribulations of beach smoking, and defend every grain of sand along the 1,100-mile coastline against cigarette litter.
One argument for the beach ban goes like this: Cigarette butts are a major source of litter. On cleanup days, volunteers say they pick up an average of more than 300,000 butts along the beach. If so, that's a powerful argument but against littering, not against smoking. A ban on smoking is both over-inclusive and under-inclusive. It's over-inclusive because responsible smokers who properly discard their cigarette butts do not contribute to litter. It's under-inclusive because irresponsible non-smokers who improperly discard food wrappers and soda cans are major contributors to litter. By all means, let's keep the beaches clean. Anyone who flips a cigarette butt onto the sand may deserve to be fined. But let's reserve our ire, and our legal remedies, for those who actually do something wrong.
The second argument against beach smoking is that secondhand smoke, even a wisp on breezy days, is a health hazard. The short answer is that no evidence exists to support that bald assertion. Indeed, a substantial body of evidence cuts the other way. In 1996, the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, reported no increase in coronary heart disease associated with secondhand smoke "at work or in other settings." Two years later, the World Health Organization reported "no association between childhood exposure to environmental tobacco smoke [ETS] and lung cancer." A 1999 editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded, "We still do not know, with accuracy, how much or even whether [ETS] increases the risk of coronary heart disease."
Then there's the granddaddy of all secondhand smoke studies: the landmark 1993 report by the Environmental Protection Agency declaring that ETS is a dangerous carcinogen that causes 3,000 deaths annually. Five years later, a federal judge lambasted EPA for "cherry picking" the data, excluding studies that "demonstrated no association between ETS and cancer," and withholding "significant portions of its findings and reasoning in striving to confirm its a priori hypothesis."
More recently, in the May 2003 British Medical Journal, researchers found that passive smoke had no significant connection with heart-disease or lung-cancer death at any level of exposure at any time. Those results, stated the American Council on Science and Health, are "consistent" with studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what?, you might argue. Maybe secondhand smoke doesn't kill people, but how about the harm to people with pre-existing asthma, respiratory infections, or eye allergies? After all, public beaches belong collectively to the citizens of a community. Why shouldn't those citizens decide, through their elected representatives, what conduct is permissible and what is not? Why should a minority of smokers be able to dictate public policy to a majority of non-smokers?
Ordinarily, in a democracy, we let the political process set restrictions on the use of public property. But there are limits on the exercise of political power. Under our constitutional system, a nonsmoking majority cannot arbitrarily stamp out the rights of a smoking minority. For a regulation to be legitimate, there must be a good fit between the regulation and the goal it seeks to accomplish.
That means smoking should not be banned-even on public property-without showing, first, that the ban will be effective and, second, that it will not proscribe more activities than necessary to reach its objective. Those two showings have not been made. The scientific link between secondhand smoke and various diseases is far from proven-especially on beaches. And regulations often prohibit smoking in locations that are not particularly confining, where patrons can easily avoid harm by taking a step or two away. If the scientific evidence were more compelling and the ban were limited to, say, reading rooms in public libraries, elevators in government office buildings, and restrooms at a state university, then a ban might be warranted. Not otherwise.
Government, not secondhand smoke, is polluting the beaches. Surely we can protect the legitimate rights of non-smokers without prohibiting smokers from relishing an occasional cigarette by the sea.
Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.
Yes, by all means let's defend our God-given right to strew the landscape with cigarette butts!
After all, those filter tips will biodegrade in, oh, about 6 or 8 months - what's the problem?
I disagree. It's a great argument for banning smoking AND littering.
Let's protect them from those wicked wisps of smoke. Just let the skin cancer take them instead...much better. These idiots don't have a clue.
I wish people were as adamant about defending our borders.
Did you even bother to read the article? If so, try comprehending it.
Someone's questioning the right of the government to stamp out bad habits again!
Cotton Mather placemarker.
Per your logic we better ban all activity that has a potential to cause litter. No more babies in diapers, no more eating, no more reading books, in fact we better ban clothing. I often see articles of clothing strewn on beaches.
Heck, people disturb the sand, we better ban all human life from the beaches.
Great, then lets ban soda pops, diapers, food, (the list is endless).
Agreed. This beach crap is right up there in importance with the transgendered freaks wanting their own bathroom or whether Shreck promotes transvestites. Get a CLUE people we've got a whole LOT more to worry about than crap like this.
Damn, I guess we'd better hire a whole buncha' beach cops--maybe one for each half mile of beach.
Since they couldn't cry about second-hand smoke at a beach--what with the ocean BREEZE--they had to figure out some other reason for making smoking a crime.
BTW: I've never smoked.
They already have on many L.A. beaches for some time now, unless it's changed in the last 12-13 years.
Nope. That's not my thinking. Simple case of cherry picking. Cig smoking is easier to ban, easier to catch offenders, and judging from the stats, a MAJOR source of garbage. It's a quick win. Demanding "logical" consistency to the point of absurdity is a silly debating tactic. In truth, common sense should work. Got half a million butts on the beach? Restrict smoking. Easy.
I think bottles are definitely banned on some beaches. Diapers should be in the bathroom, doncha think?
Did you even "read" the article, or are you so set in your attitude that it was all just words, words, words...
This is a United States issue. Send back those two American traitors and maybe we can talk about it.
I stopped reading when it went into second hand smoke, because I don't give a crap about it. I mean, I prefer not to be around cig smoke, but the litter argument is enough for me. Take yer butts elsewhere.
The suppression of God-given liberty is a worldwide issue.
I'm disappointed in you.
"Nope. That's not my thinking. Simple case of cherry picking. Cig smoking is easier to ban, easier to catch offenders,....."
At least you freely admit that you think a legitimate government role is to ensure it takes the easiest path to reach its goals. Instead of addressing the actual problem, the easiest(laziest) path requires the banning of the use of a legal product. A product that provides a lot of revenue to the government.
Who gets to decide the next activity to ban? I hope it is me, I'll surely pick your ox to gore and demonize.
Isn't this ridiculous? The anti-smokers have tunnel vision. They don't even know there is a war on.
All they can think about is banning smoking. I think they are really over the top. Nothing like taking away the rights of the American people when we are fighting a big war over seas.
Our military is fighting for our rights, and these idiots are still working to take them away. Makes you wonder just what side they really are on, right?
Excuse me? Who are you to be disappointed in me? It's none of your business, btw.
This post isn't to you in particular, but I wanted to weigh in that it is really offensive to be walking down the beach barefoot and step on a burning cig. I can't stand the things.
Take YER butt elsewhere. Does the truth hurt?
nope very true. yes millions use the beaches every year, but not all the butts, arrive there the same way. check out www.ocregister.com
Wrong again. Why should I even bother with you when you so transparantly twist what I say? What I think is that it is a legitimate public interest that public beaches are clean. Is that too Nanny State for ya?
As to what gubmint should do it, I think the more local the better. Cali is a big state, not sure state level is best way, but what the hell. Leave it to Cali to decide. I have NO problem with people deciding they don't want cig butts on their public beaches.
Instead of addressing the actual problem, the easiest(laziest) path requires the banning of the use of a legal product. A product that provides a lot of revenue to the government.
Quit whining. Jack Daniels is a legal product that brings in revenues, and I am ok with that being prohibited on the beach too. Think of all the legal products not allowed on the beach....lawnmowers, dump trucks, helicopters, john deere tractors.
Who gets to decide the next activity to ban? I hope it is me, I'll surely pick your ox to gore and demonize.
The people, through their reps, as it should be. As for you picking oxen to be gored, that's real mature and responsible of you. I am sure you are the FIRST PERSON EVER to find yourself outvoted on something. You poor baby.
Whoever may have started it, knock off the personal stuff.
I hope this isn't a real fight about to break out. ;-)
If the beaches are to be kept clean, and that is the problem being addressed, then why not enforce all littering laws on the books. Why address the problem by addressing one symptom only? Why not address the actual problem.
Oh, yeah, this way is easier and you support that.
Glad to see that you believe in the tyranny of the majority. As a conservative I would expect you to understand the role of any government. However, since it is something you support then you feel it acceptable to support government growth. Another "convenient conservative" outs themself!
I wonder what size patrol they will use.
You must have forgotten what I said in my original post. I said ban cigs AND littering on the beach.
Oh, yeah, this way is easier and you support that.
I definitely think a cig ban is a quick win that makes sense.
Glad to see that you believe in the tyranny of the majority.
The horror. In Iraq, they tortured people to death. That's almost as bad as a public beach setting rules against littering and smoking! The horror!
As a conservative I would expect you to understand the role of any government. However, since it is something you support then you feel it acceptable to support government growth. Another "convenient conservative" outs themself!
It's a public beach. You get that, right? YOU don't own it. It is shared by the public. So.....who decides the rules, genius? The minority?
"You must have forgotten what I said in my original post. I said ban cigs AND littering on the beach."
Littering laws already exist. They aren't inforced.
"I definitely think a cig ban is a quick win that makes sense."
Why is an additional law necessary to fix problems created by not enforcing current laws? I would bet that the volume of trash generated by cigs pales in comparison to other items. Individual pieces might be higher, but volume is the real issue.
"The horror. In Iraq, they tortured people to death. That's almost as bad as a public beach setting rules against littering and smoking! The horror!"
Kinda funny that you bring up our setting one population free in support of further government growth on another population.
"It's a public beach. You get that, right? YOU don't own it. It is shared by the public. So.....who decides the rules, genius? The minority?"
Shared, what is your concept of sharing? A rule is unnecesasary in this case. Enforcement of current rules is all that is needed. Is this government entity willing to forego any tobacco related revenue? I doubt it.
You must be a libertarian.
"After all, those filter tips will biodegrade in, oh, about 6 or 8 months - what's the problem?"
Okay but what about soda/beer cans, plastic wrap, the plastic things that hold beer/soda cans together in six packs. I agree no one should liter but why hold one segment of society to stricter controls than others. You logic is faulty, can you explain how this is fair?
Not necessarily. I just know that being truly free means that some individuals might just participate in behaviours that I don't like. I accept that they are free to do those things if no harm is brought to anyone else.
Littering harms the rest of us, enforce the existing littering laws to address the problem of littering.
I will state that with the attitude of many "conservatives" right here on FR, the Libertarian party is looking more tempting.
BeachesBeavis & Butthead s..... They can't spell the article title right !
Not a bit.
I do. It makes no difference if there any evidence linking it with cancer; I just don't want to breathe it. End of argument. Do whatever you want with your air, on your property, but as soon as it is my air, on public property, there is no "smoker's right" to foul it.
The conservative principle is that whoever owns the property gets to use it however they want. Ergo, ban smoking on public property. Let private property owners (which includes bars, restaurants, ball parks, etc.) decide for themselves.
We're almost there.
Hi SheLion, thanks for the ping.
First, the danger of second hand smoke is a lie. Both my parents smoked all my life and I never suffered any ill effects from it. I've smoked for over 20 years and can still outrun most of my peers. So the second hand smoke argument does not hold water. I realize that most anti-smokes cannot accept this FACT because it so severely curtails their argument and agenda.
To be fair, throwing cigarette butts on the ground is littering and there is no excuse for that. There are already laws addressing the act of littering so another law (smoking ban) will not make any difference. I NEVER throw my cigarette butts on the ground OR out the window. Remember, in the summer time there are folks on motorcycles including a friend of mine who was hit in the face by a lit butt that some careless driver threw out his window while driving down highway.
Smoking bans are nothing more than other people trying to force their will and views on me. Won't happen.
I am a courteous smoker. I don't throw my butts down (littering), and do not smoke where it is prohibited. I have been willing to meet the anti-smokers halfway. If the anti-smokers do not show the same courtesy, I will stop trying to meet them half way.
"I do. It makes no difference if there any evidence linking it with cancer; I just don't want to breathe it. End of argument."
So you also agree with the use of government force to ensure that you are not offended by a certain smell. How very conservative of you.
I don't like the smell of perfume, how about we ban perfume on all public property? Should we set up an olfactory sensor machine that all citizens must enter for screening prior to entering any public property? Who gets to set the olfactory standard?
I'm not usually so snarky.
Obviously, these things should be (and usually are) settled by discussion among civil people. Since smokers, as a group, are notoriously numb to everybody around them, they are beyond civil appeals.
There has to be a limit, of course, based on practicality. Addressing perfume is not practical and the problem (though legitimate) is about one millionth the scale of the smoke problem.
Banning smoking on public property is a straightforwardly conservative (even libertarian) exercise of government force.
Smoking, outside of your personal air space, it is an unlawful seizure of the air of thise around you and should be constrained by force, if necessary. Am I being at all unclear?
And the good news is that it will. The only reason it has taken this long is that it takes a while for a culture to get unaddicted.
My only regret is that the property rights of private, commercial establishments are being abused in the process, in an abuse at least as bad as the abuse it purports to cure.
"I agree with the use of government force to keep visible pollutants out of my air. Simple as that."
In your previous post you said that the SHS health issue was irrelevant because you didn't want to smell it. Which is it, a health issue or not.
If you can't make up your mind regarding the issue being a health issue or a smell issue how do you expect anyone reading your posts to take you seriously?
Would you accept an acceptable exposure level (PPM) for SHS? Would you accept a standard being established by the EPA?