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.


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58 Responses to “Jada Brotman: The Downtown Smoking Ban Is Wrong On So Many Levels”

  1. Hey! Carmel is a fantastic place to live! And BTW, you can smoke there.

  2. Traci Marcroft Barnwell

    So owning dogs is not illegal but not cleaning up after them is! (So my analogy begins) perhaps we could hire a 'butt officer' to site everyone throwing butts on the ground, into trash cans (lit!) or anywhere outside an appropriate container. The funds generated by these fines could pay to clean up the 2 inch deep butts outside the bars and businesses on the plaza. Problem solved!

  3. I say thumbs up, to Arcata, for taking on Big Tobacco. I would suggest they do something about Gigahumongous Nicotine, by banning the use of Roundup and similar pesticides in the City limits.

  4. The grass on the Plaza is perfect. Too perfect.

  5. Arcata, isn't "taking on big tobacco"…..Arcata, is creating more revenue through creating the ability to issue citations….period….. P.S. I don't smoke…..I really miss the free country I used to live in, but it just isn't the same place anymore.

  6. Corey O'Brien

    this is because people vote Republican and Democrats. that isn't "representation", it's only employing "lawmakers". America is dead, man.

  7. I am a non-smoker and this reeks of fascism. Even in quick passing of someone smoking, it is not going to harm my health in any way…keep your hernias in check, it is NOT harming my health. I have never seen butts "two inches deep butts" outside of a bar. It is the totalitarian politics that keeps me away from Arcata, which is sad, because there are some great stores that I loved shopping at, but, I just can't tolerate the hateful, one-sided politics. Traci, fining people? THAT is your solution to fascist politics, wow, that is sad. This anti-smoking hatred is just to much for me. And, Steven, this is in no way taking on "big tobacco", is is merely taking on personal rights, which you people just have no problem doing. I can only hope someone finds something you do as offensive and have it banned, and I don't care how ludicrous it is, I just want you to experience the hatefulness you now subject smokers to.

  8. Kevin Hoover

    I don't think fascist means the same thing to you as it does to me. The smoking ban went through multiple public meetings, with citizens arguing both sides of the issue. The ordinance was changed to accommodate many of the suggestions, and finally passed. That someone might oppose an ordinance that was the end result of a democratic process doesn't make it fascist.

  9. Charles Applegate

    Cigarette smoke is poisonous as well as foul-smelling. If you want to smoke, go ahead – but don't expect me to gladly allow you to stink me out of a public place while you do it.

    You won't let me loose a freshet of rank, rancid coffee piss all over your face, hair, and clothing, will you? Then don't demand the 'right' to pollute me. It's the Golden (Shower) Rule.

  10. Ian Ray

    Wait a minute… since when has McKinleyville not had a leg to stand on? Sure, I mean people ride down the street on horses pretty regularly and there is even one girl who walks her full-grown pig, but do you see us with any yak problems?

  11. Greg Galardy

    "Actually, it has been shown that smoke outside can fairly quickly reach levels as high as indoors." WHAT!? Can you cite where it has been shown? What are the 'levels' of? This is a preposterous claim, and even those of us that might agree with your position are questioning what you're saying.

    Something to think about. .

  12. Sorry, but your logic is severely flawed on so many levels.

    I am happy about the public space ban on smoking. Then again, I don't smoke tobacco any more.

  13. Smoking in public isn't a "freedom" and I am a huge Jefferson fan. It isn't "liberty", it is seriously affecting someone else's right to breathe air that isn't deadly.

    It is funny how some of my fellow libtards will scream about smog and then bitch out not being able to smoke in someone's face.

    The red staters aren't brilliant enough to make up most of your flaws, you make them obvious.

  14. lol, 3 irish names in a row 😉

  15. Anonymous

    Smokers are like oral fixated toddlers. You take away that lit binky and it opens up the temper tirade hissy fit. They'll calm down, take a nap, wake up, then accept the new rules. Kids! They're so cute when you take away their bad habits.

  16. No, cigarettes aren't illegal, but neither are automobiles and we have no problem banning them from driving the Plaza in the interests of public health and safety.

  17. The minute it takes aways someones right, it becomes fascist, it does not matter how many committees it has gone through. And, those that voted approval of this "law" are just as wrong as the law itself. The "Final Solution" also had many committee meetings, and it clearly was fascist. No comparison you might whine,but on the level of individual rights they are identical.

  18. Kevin Hoover

    That being the case, I have a follow-up question. Basically, how do we tell the smoking fascist smoking bans from the non-fascist ones. Or are they all fascist?

    For example, it's been illegal under state law to smoke in parks which have a children's playset for years. And on the Arcata Plaza, near building entrances, inside businesses (a Labor Code regulation), etc.

    If one doesn't wish to participate in fascism, how would one tell which of these are fascist and non-fascist?

  19. Since all stomp on individuals rights, that makes them all facists. And, please remember, I am a NON-smoker, but, I just can't abide violating rights.

  20. Kevin Hoover

    What do you think about the argument that a right as important as smoking is being stomped by the smoking itself – the right to breathe freely in public places?

  21. Denise Fitzgerald

    My daughter has a congenital heart defect. She's not supposed to be around cigarette smoke. Passing you on the sidewalk isn't going to permanently damage her, but would I be happy if she could walk the streets of downtown Arcata without exposure at all? You betcha. I welcome the Nanny state. :)

  22. Oh, boo-hoo. This probably would not have been an issue if the smokers had respected the law already in place that limited how close to doorways that people can smoke.

  23. Denise Fitzgerald

    Michael Welch WHAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa <3

  24. Vicho Ward

    I don't think that smokers understand just how much their smoke affects us non-smokers. Yes, it's outside, but that's often not good enough. Unless the breeze is blowing AWAY from me, I can smell that(I'll be nice and call it "stuff") from well over 100 feet. If the breeze is blowing it toward me, which sometimes happens, then it is particularly bad. The "What's the problem? We're outside" argument shows that they really don't have a clue as to how strong, nasty, and far-reaching that stuff is.

    Smokers smoke near entrances to buildings, near open doors/windows, and on top of that, they litter. Just go to any public garbage can and look at the ground within a 10 ft radius. Count how many cig butts you find. In most cases, it will be somewhere between 20-50, which is ridiculous. Go and look. See if I'm wrong.

    I'm a health conscious person, and I cannot stand cigarette smoke. Yet, smokers don't let me avoid it. I would say that somewhere around 1% of smokers actually know how and/or care to smoke their cigarettes in such a way that it doesn't affect the rest of us. And that's why the idea of a ban came about. 99% of the smokers are to blame.

    Bottom line: Their habit is less important than my(and the rest of society's) right to breath healthy air. They don't know how to keep their smoke away from the rest of us, and for the most part, they don't seem to care. Well they've left us no choice. I think the ban is a great idea. And they did it to themselves.

  25. Vicho Ward

    Michael, you don't have a "right" to do something that causes harm to others. And cigarette smoke does just that.

  26. Kevin Hoover

    Those are all very salient points. The smoke is noxious, and sometimes you can't get away from it. It's hard to understand why one person's casual pleasure would be more important than the basic comfort of others.

  27. ban smoking it stinks along with shitty weed!

  28. First, if your doctors passing by someone on the street to be smoking to be a threat to your daughter's health, they're being hysterical.

    Second, if your daughter really is that vulnerable to God knows what is in the air, she should probably just stay home.

  29. Just as with the lady at the start of these comments, if you're so sensitive to outside particulate, whether it be smoke or pollen, you should stay home and quit trying to force everyone to accommodate you. You'll also likely live longer that way.

  30. Craig Stock

    The entire world will bow to you and your daughter's wishes.

  31. Craig Stock

    I love breathing you car exhaust.

  32. Craig Stock

    You are happy oppressing others because it doesn't affect you……wait til it's something you enjoy and see how much you don't mind.

  33. Fred Levitan

    Arcata – where yaks have the right of way! And the smokers just don't care!

  34. Uma Kirk

    There's used to be a balance of rights in the state of California. The voters voted to limit the smoking to smoking sections, and to business's with fewer than 5 employees, hotel lobbies, and a few other small exceptions. They voted for the right for everyone to have their rights, even if limited, it was still a right. Since that time, the Dictators of America have taken it into their own hands (vigilantes) to abolish the State Law by destroying the Law that the Americans voted for. They are promoting for towns to forbid certain types of people (smokers) today, coffee addicts tomorrow) to enter their territories, yet they insist on taxing them double. Go to the no-smoke.org site and see their overall plan to destroy the rights of the American people. Who's next?

  35. Uma Kirk

    Passionately expressed, Jada. I admire your pluck. I am also saddened by your loss of rights that you voted for in the State elections back in, 2009 was it? You remember, the right to have smoking sections so that the smokers could still shop in the town they pay taxes in. The no-smoke.org and other Nazi Antz are convincing towns to break the law of the people for the people. These towns should know better. Surely someone in the panel has watched Hitler movies? The saddest part to me, is how they are seemingly also attacking the ex-smokers. Those who still use nicotine, either by patch, gum, snus, or the electronic device that simulates a cigarette, but without any smoke or tar. I am appalled at the town for being so gullible as to be so deceived by propaganda and misrepresentation of the facts. I applaud your stand for your personal rights.

  36. Kevin Hoover

    If you could quantize the benefits of pleasure from smoking, and do the same for breathing clean air in public, you could do a simple comparison and go with the higher number.

    Let's say the amount of pleasure one gets from smoking downtown is equivalent to the displeasure of a non-smoker's getting pelted with cigarette smoke.

    There are fewer smokers than non-smokers these days. In 2011, only 19 percent of the adult populace smoked (CDC). It's less now.

    So right away, even if the quantum pleasure/displeasure is the same per capita, there are still four times as many people experiencing displeasure as pleasure.

    Add the negative health impacts, negative environmental impacts (the butts) and the quality of life being stunk up for children and non-smokers, and smoking decisively loses.

    All the "leave me alone" arguments smokers make also apply to the non-smokers, who want to be left alone to breathe clean air.

    The smokers are introducing the conflict with their impactive habit. It is they who have to take responsibility, and the new law makes those responsibilities clear.

  37. Thanks for the smoking ban. I survived serious lung cancer (2004) and should not breathe second-hand cigarette smoke, even outdoors. Smokers need better options to quit, more alternative nicotine products, and fair treatment options. Thanks

  38. We do drive around the Plaza.

  39. <i>Actually, my initial reaction was phone-book-throwing, window-smashing blind rage</i>.

    That rage never goes away. Six years after the UK smoking ban came into force, I'm still as angry about it as I was in the beginning.

    There are the seeds of profound social division in all these smoking bans. It's a very dark development when a significant minority of people are effectively demonised and expelled from society. Because they don't go away. They don't vanish. And they remain very, very, very angry at what has been done to them.

  40. Uma Kirk

    I died before I was born.. You see, everyone smoked when I was born. They smoked in the streets, cars, stores, homes, even while I was nursing. There were always at least 2 full time smokers in my home, but usually more. Everyone who visited smoked. Even my Doctors smoked. According to the fearmongers we all love to be guided by, I died from 3rd hand smoke, to be honest. And then I died again at age 10, from 2nd hand smoke. And then I died again at age 40 from 1st hand smoke. I've died more often than I've lived. If the smoking didn't kill me, the fear, worry, and stress from listening to propaganda certainly did. When I die again, it will be the last time, unless, of course, some creative political fearmongerer comes up with 4th hand smoke. So listen up. We WILL die eventually!!

  41. Uma Kirk

    Nicotine is also a medication. It helps with ADD, Road Rage, Psychopathic visualization tendencies towards bullies, and other fine mishaps. It is not just an oral fixation, but yes, it is that too.

  42. Uma Kirk

    Vicho Ward .. then get off his lap and let me sit on it. I think I love that guy.

  43. Kevin Hoover proposes quantizing the pleasure/displeasure due to smoking, and concludes that since smoking prevalence is down at 19%, there's more to be gained than lost from introducing smoking bans.

    But would he use the same argument to conclude that, if most people in Arcata were Roman Catholics, and only 19% of them were Protestants, that more would be gained than lost if the Protestant chapels were closed down, and Roman Catholic churches were the only kind allowed?

    I suspect he wouldn't. But wherein lies the difference?

  44. Uma Kirk

    I wholeheartedly agree with you Micahael L. Fisk. It is the rights of the taxpayers who voted versus the rights of those who are set upon destroying the rights of the taxpayers. Please continue speaking, you are the only one who makes real sense.

  45. Uma Kirk

    Then why oh why are you all set to ban those who quit smoking the stinkies by switching over to the eCigs? This post makes about as much sense as the compliance does. (none at all).

  46. Uma Kirk

    You are happy to take away the rights of others, so that you can have more? Isn't that how Hitler started out? Or was it World Order? Maybe it was just a movie. I forget.

  47. Uma Kirk

    +1, well said Orion!! I couldn't agree more.

  48. Uma Kirk

    Kevin Hoover, if you are so dead against smoking, then why are you okay with eCigs being tossed into this Nazi ban? Why are you okay with fearmongering and propaganda? Why do you accept taxpayers rights to be taken away? The non-smokers have 3/4's of the airspace, actually, more than that. The Smoker gets, say, 5 feet of space, in the rain, in the middle of nowhere, while the non-smokers receive the rest of world's airspace. Yet you want to take that away from them too? If the designated areas are not being enforced, shouldn't the enforcers be forced to enforce rather than the lawbreaker being banned from your town, your shopping, your lives? This is a hate crime, if ever I saw one.

  49. John Davidson

    I just gotta ask! How the hell does your so called daughter escape POLLEN,CAR EXHAUST,RESTARAUNT SMOKE,OUTDOOR GRILLING,SOUR SEWER SMELLS,DOG MANUR ODORS IN THE PARK and lets not forget vomit on the ground from drunks! Then we have the fresh smell of cut grass to breath in……….and your freaking worried about a lil cig smoke……..lady your a GEM!

  50. John Davidson

    The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%.

    “Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders.

    The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens.
    “These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.”

    They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.”
    The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
    Volume 121, Issue 1 , Pages 38-42.e3, January 2008

    This is a Swedish study.

    “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

    CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”
    Clin Exp Allergy 2001 Jun;31(6):908-14


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