I loathe cigarette smoke. I hate the way it permeates my clothes, hair and even my skin. I’m in agony when I’m trapped in a room with smokers. And because a room is a closed space and the smoke has nowhere to go, I’m okay with smoking bans inside buildings that are open to the public — although I think that bars or restaurants should be able to decide for themselves whether they want their customers to be able to smoke around food or drink. They’ll lose customers like me, but I may not be the customer base they want to attract.
However, I’m really opposed to banning smoking in the open air. To me, that goes beyond courtesy to non-smokers, who cannot escape smoke when they’re confined in an enclosed space, and becomes persecution of a legal activity. Nevertheless, that’s precisely what San Francisco is doing. I turns out that, a couple of years ago, San Francisco made it illegal to smoke in public parks, a law that the cops sensibly ignored. However, now they’re putting effort into enforcing it (probably because smoker’s are a more compliant population than the one that’s really getting into trouble):
The City has just issued the first-ever $100 fine for violating a ban on smoking in San Francisco’s parks even though the law is more than two years old and people continue to smoke in parks. The first citation was issued last week to a patron of Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square, which has received attention recently from several city departments after Mayor Gavin Newsom visited the park in March and was angered by its condition.
The City Administrator’s Office — in conjunction with other departments including the Police Department and Public Works —has worked to clean up the park and also to inform users about the smoking ban.
Despite the recent citation and outreach — which included the posting of no-smoking signs, installation of ashtrays on litter cans near park entrances and fliers handed out explaining the ban — at least six people were observed by The Examiner smoking Monday around 2 p.m. in different locations in the park. Smokers included members of card games and a man sitting on a park bench. No one was around enforcing the ban.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who wrote the law, said it was “outrageous” that the first citation was only just issued last week. “Clearly no one is enforcing it,” she said. The supervisor said she would look into “why this is not being implemented.”
In 2005, the Board of Supervisors, citing the health risks associated with secondhand smoke, adopted the smoking ban in city parks and it was signed by Newsom. The law authorizes a $100 fine for first offenders and up to $500 for repeat offenses.