Jada Brotman: The Downtown Smoking Ban Is Wrong On So Many Levels

Friday, July 5, 2013

I am distressed to learn about the Arcata City’s Council decision to ban smoking in downtown Arcata.

Actually, my initial reaction was phone-book-throwing, window-smashing blind rage, but once the police came and left and Kevin Hoover cleaned up the shattered windows and sent me back to anger management, I am pleased to announce my reaction can be classified now as “distressed.”

Now, yes, I am a smoker, and yes, I think everyone would be better off if they just did exactly what I say, but bear with me.

Jada Brotman. KLH | Eye

Jada Brotman. KLH | Eye

Points against this law

CIGARETTES ARE NOT ILLEGAL. My taxpayer dollars pay for this town’s functioning, same as yours. I concede that shared public spaces where people are wont to linger, like the Plaza and parks, can understandably be anti-smoking, but WALKING DOWN THE %#$^& STREET IN MY HOMETOWN?

So, I can drink in the bar, which arguably causes at least as much societal damage as public smoking, but not – gasp – pass across a wide public thoroughfare 100 feet from another human being while smoking?

Smokers are already taxed heavily and not allowed to smoke in most shared areas. Not allowing smoking on outdoor public thoroughfares goes too far into uncomfortable fascist arenas.

I understand you don’t want to breathe my smoke, but look around you, lady – we are outside. No walls. Breeze. Calm yourself. I know Arcata seems like its own li’l island, but I promise you we are still in America. Something about freedom and rights and stuff?

In seriousness this law just rubs me the wrong way, and would if I was a non-smoker. I agree we have to make concessions for the public health, but this law is entirely too far-reaching.

I find it controlling and dogmatic to legislate open-air spaces in such an inconsistent manner; see Point 2.

IT’S ILLOGICAL. We have absolutely no problem blithely tripping past two lanes of trucks spewing fumes into the atmosphere but somehow a two-inch tube of tobacco that burns for three minutes is worthy of public pillory.

IT’S CLASSIST. Who really smokes in this town? Obviously, awesome people like yours truly, but a lot of smokers based purely on my observations are everyone’s favorite people to hate, the Plazoids.

Don’t we have enough trite laws on the books to facilitate our generally making their lives miserable? Must we add to the burden on our upstanding police force?

Forget about actual CRIME, fellas, I want my tax dollars spent on needless harassment!

If I wanted to live in NYC circa Rudy Giuliani, I’d get a time machine. In my lifetime

I’ve seen this town become more and more frighteningly prissy. What’s next, a cabaret law preventing dancing after 11? That’s an actual Giuliani law, by the way.

And perhaps my most cogent point:


Everyone from other towns is making fun of us. Seriously, we just gave McKinleyville a leg to stand on. I understand health concerns etc, I really do, but this is self-righteous interference gone haywire. It reeks of smug meddlers. Not just reeks, it screams, hollers and stomps.

Cigarettes are legal; we already don’t smoke in public parks and indoors; in this country if you want to do something stupid and self-destructive, you have a constitutional right to do so.

If I wanted to live in a nauseatingly anal town like Santa Cruz or Carmel, I would. Or a cringingly lame town like Fresno.

Why must you embarrass your native sons and daughters, Arcata? Are we smokers not men and women too? Must we be doomed to cringe in dark corners, hiding from Officer Sanchez and huffing quickly in the dark like a Deadhead with a paper bag and a bottle of Dust-Off?

Hands off my body doesn’t just apply to abortion, folks!

Jada Brotman was branded a “corporate pig” as she and her fondly remembered Queen Doubles cart were chased off the Plaza by Occupy Arcata.


Tags: , ,