Kevin Hoover: No More Tyranny Of The Smoking Minority

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Imagine that you could quantify – maybe using a 10-scale – the  pleasure from smoking downtown, and from breathing clean air in public. In determining which group – smokers or non – gets its way with the smoking laws, you could just compare the two and go with the higher number.

Let’s say the amount of pleasure one gets from smoking downtown is equivalent to the displeasure a non-smoker experiences 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. Lots of Plaza users are children, so that further diminishes the proportion of people out there who smoke.

So right away, even if the individual pleasure/displeasure measure is the same, there are still at least four times as many people experiencing displeasure as pleasure.

Add the negative health impacts and resulting burden on society, negative environmental impacts (the smoke and butts), plus 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 Arcata’s naturally clean air.

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


76 Responses to “Kevin Hoover: No More Tyranny Of The Smoking Minority”

  1. I am an ex-smoker, and as such greatly dislike being around cigarette smoke and am thankful that I won't have to walk through it anymore. That being said, I do still believe that smokers should at least have a designated area (say the alley behind the bars?) where they should be allowed to smoke. They are not criminals or second class citizens, they are simply addicted to cigarettes.

  2. Cindy Shay

    YUP! Tired of having to hold my breath just to walk down a sidewalk.. I'm trying to get my guy to quit, so I say YAY!

  3. Craig Stock

    People whine about the stupidest things like someone else's smoke bothering THEM but they never hesitate to jump in the SUV and blow their foul exhaust into another's space. I say go to hell with all of you.

  4. Uma Kirk

    The PEOPLE of the State of California voted for designated areas for those who haven't quit smoking yet. Smokers are taxpayers, EX-smokers are taxpayers (grossly missed data here in your article, DearHeart), , Closet smokers (whom you also missed) are taxpayers, Social smokers are TaxPayers, (oops, another missed data), and so on. These people are all taxpaying citizens, not criminals. You seem to have missed a valuable group of taxpayers, in your quick data processing. You are outnumbered. You are the less of the valuables, according to your own opinion. I believe we are ALL valuable human beings who shouldn't have to fight idiots like Stanton Glantz who want to take away the Civil Rights of the Taxpayers. He is on a mission to destroy the California State Law. You support this? I don't. I would rather see him investigated by the FBI and taken to prison where he belongs… and the idiots who keep following his Nazi dictatorship as well. There is room for everyone in America, but dictators. Those who push Chantrix, the biggest suicidal drug approved by the FDA for Big Pharma's pocketbook, should go to prison too. Open the gates, let the Alternative Medicine & Alternative Smokers out, and lock the dictators up. Wake up California. Super Size me is next to go. You'll have to buy 3 happy meals instead, which increases the sales tax raised for the State, just like they did in NY. Coffee is next. It's an addicting drug too. Think I'm BS'ing you? Get your head out of the sand. Oh, BTW, those Ex-smokers and NON-smokers, those Closet Smokers, and so forth? Are now Vapers of the electronic cigarettes. That's how they stay off the stinkies. Yet, you want to ban/punish/ them too? It sounds like a Bully thing where someone thinks they outnumber you and get away with murder. That's exactly what this ordinance is doing.

  5. If you want to REALLY REDUCE the amount of nicotine in the Plaza, try BANNING ROUNDUP. It's like ten thousand people smoking, and bragging about how their grass is greener than yours.

  6. The problem is not the nicotine, it is the smoke. Even if it was, it is apples and oranges.

  7. Kevin Hoover

    Arcata doesn't use pesticides on the Plaza.

  8. Have they tried it to get rid of the pests?

  9. I'm glad they don't use pesticides. I've been wondering about that. All the same, the same beast that argued that cigarettes doesn't cause cancer, is now arguing that Roundup doesn't kill bees. That was the apple colored head talking before. Now, it's the orange colored head talking. How about the beautiful sidewalks? Does Arcata keep them sparkling and new, without pesticides?

  10. Ian Ray

    Monsanto is banning smoking downtown?

  11. While most of the hostility towards this ordinance is directed at the downtown ban, I find the e-Cigarette/Multi-Family restrictions a bit absurd.

    I've got 3 units on my property, which, according to the ordinance, means that smoking while on my front porch is illegal, but smoking inside or on the grass 4 feet from my front door is. That makes perfect sense. 😛

    Also, extending the ban to include e-Cigarettes seems a bit extreme. At least I only use that one inside, so I'm safe. 😉

    *sigh* Oh, Arcata.

  12. Those e cigarettes are even illegal in some states now, it stems from the look of a cigarette to children, as pparently

  13. Justin Arthur Fricker

    Linda was told that Everett's back area is not a designated smoking area if you hadn't heard.

  14. Jeanne Bean Selden

    I love how it's labeled as "tyranny." Like smokers are fighting some nasty, socially-ill fight against health and the health of others in general. And the hypocrisy on the part of the City Council, as well as all outdoor-cigarette banning agencies!…. if the Arcata City Council really cared about noxious fumes on the plaza then the plaza and on city streets then the streets would be vehicle-free. It is clear that the real goal here is the eradication of unsavory individuals.

  15. Ian Ray

    I think you mean insecticide vs. herbicide, Pioneer Ten. Fungicides and rodenticides can be called pesticides as well depending on the use. The definition is anything intended to kill a crop pest. If you spray d-limonene on your kitchen counter to clean (and give it that horrible orange smell), that is not applying a pesticide. If you spray the exact same compound on weeds, that is applying a pesticide.

  16. Kevin Hoover

    Jeanne Bean Selden You're falling for the Tu Quoque logical fallacy again. Just because cars create pollution doesn't mean cigarette smoke isn't a problem. Further, cars don't emit unhealthful cigarette smoke.

    I do agree that cars are a nuisance though, and not just for their fumes – the noise, too. Perhaps the City Council will be receptive to a car-curbing initiative. Why don't you draft some car abatement language and forward it to them?

  17. "Arcata's naturally clean air" – Good one, Kevin!

  18. Kevin Hoover

    I just spoke to Parks Superintendent Dan Diemer. He made clear that no pesticides or herbicides are used in any of Arcata's parks. And that includes Roundup.

  19. Kevin Hoover

    Ah, we have found the inevitable inconsistency. But Josh, if you think about it, is that quirk of the ordinance any dumber than increasing the risk factors for yourself and those around you for the misery and expense of one of several incurable diseases?

  20. Jeanne Bean Selden

    I know better than to keep commenting. But Kevin – you know it's not about cars – it's about the vilification of smokers as second-class citizens. You know there's more to it than that. GMOs cause cancer but it's not the fault of the eater!! In your haste to provide links to actual facts, and to also laughably challenge me to spin my wheels (no pun intended) creating policy that has no hope of even making any sense, you didn't address the actual issue which is straight up class warfare. Your vocabulary choices are subjective and clearly represent your own feelings, which we all now know are anti-smoking.

  21. Kevin Hoover

    Jeanne Bean Selden Well, there we disagree. Air pollution harms homeless people as much as everyone else. Non-smoking members of the underclass will benefit from the new law as much as anyone else.

    There are already laws on the books against other offensive and harmful activities, and they apply equally to all persons. People of all socioeconomic strata are free to commingle on the Plaza and downtown. They just have to conform to a common set of standards for the benefit of all.

  22. Jeanne Bean Selden

    Well ya got me there. But Arcatans must conform to a "selection" of bans on unhealthy activities for the greater good? And who decides what's unhealthy and what's okay? Apparently panhandling is right up there with polluting the air. And those two battles are not coincidental for our town. This could be a ban on ANYTHING. The fact that's its smoking tells us what battles the city is interested in fighting. And there are more serious battles to tackle. The biggest fallacy in anti-smoking campaigns is the object of INTENT on the part of the smoker to harm others. Not all smokers intend to harm others, and banning all smoking means there is an assumption that all smokers intend to harm others. It's the perceived intent that fuels interest in this particular battle. It's disappointing that this is important enough to apply to individuals ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY. You talk about slippery slope…

  23. Ian Ray

    Jeanne Bean Selden, while I would speculate that the smoking ban never would have been considered if the panhandling law had not been struck down, Arcata is just following the example of other places with panhandling issues. Years ago, the Plaza was filled with the people who now congregate in front of Ace Hardware and the empty lot between the bars. The smoking ban removed those people from the main part of the Plaza and it will now likely remove them from the edges. I'm not saying it is good or bad, it is just the tool that is being used. I honestly think anyone who thinks this is not about Plazoids is kidding themselves, but it will at least hold up in court unlike the panhandling ban.

  24. Kevin Hoover

    Jeanne Bean Selden I've never heard any insinuations that smokers are trying to hurt others. That's a new one for me. But that doesn't mean they haven't happened.

    Re: "on their own property." If only the smoke stayed within property boundaries. It's the smoke, the act, that is the issue that creates negative consequences. Not the people who do it.

  25. Uma Kirk

    Including the eCig in this ban is just plain ludicrous. The eCig is a replacement tool. It has zero tar, zero toxins, zero stink.. unless you hate the smell of vanilla or mountain dew haha. Some are completely flavor free. Scent free. The vapor dissipates almost as suddenly as it appeared (depending on the humidity). Californian's should be dancing in the streets, celebrating the new NON-smokers, EX-smokers, and smokers who have HAPPILY cut down from 50 cigs a day to a measly 4. Some of the eCigs have nicotine, but not all of them do. That is purely up to the individual. The nicotine absorbs onto the tongue, and does not blow into the air. For more information, check out the ECLAT studies on youtube, check out Dr. Seigels Blog where he covers the REST OF THE STORY that Glantz and Corbett are hiding and twisting. Chantrix is being sued for being so incredibly suicidal. There are lots of non-twisted FACTS out there concerning the eCigs. Check out for many of them. (Consumer Advocates for SMOKE-FREE Alternatives).

  26. Cindy, if you're "holding your breath" just to walk down a sidewalk because people are smoking you may be suffering from ASDS, AntiSmokers' Dysfunction Syndrome. Stephanie Stahl has analyzed this problem and offers some insights on "Recover and Start Living the Good Life" on her page at:

    – MJM

  27. Kevin Hoover wrote, " Further, cars don't emit unhealthful cigarette smoke."

    Kevin, I didn't think I'd find anything we agreed on, but I was wrong. You are indeed correct in that statement, and I think we should get together for a public demonstration to prove it! We'll set up two sealed garages. In one of them I will sit with a friend for an hour while he smokes several cigarettes. In the other you will sit with an average car running for an hour. At the end of the hour we will open the two garages and compare notes on the unhealthiness we experienced.

    Sound good to you?

    – MJM

  28. Ian and Jeanne: you're very correct about the laws being used that way to "clean up the undesirables" who ordinary laws can't touch. I've read about it being used that way in other places over the years as well although I don't have any specific examples to cite at the moment. People forget the old Reverend Niemuller warning about "And when they came for me, there was no one left to object…"

    – MJM

  29. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden It's the vast majority of non-smokers who have been shackled and not allowed to use public spaces. Now, they are liberated.

  30. Kevin Hoover

    That would be a foolish exercise. Your premise seems to be that we can't solve one problem until and unless we solve all. If that's it, I don't agree.

    But I agree with you that vehicles stink. They are noisy, too. Let's get an abatement ordinance going!

  31. Only 19 percent of the people produce all of those butts?

  32. Kevin Hoover

    There's a vivid discussion of this column and other related items at:

  33. Kevin Hoover , no, my premise was that you made a rather silly and prejudicial statement to support your argument. The emissions from automobiles are VASTLY more unhealthy than the emissions from cigarettes in terms of quantity, and, I believe, in quality. Your argument was basically the same as if I had said, "Cigarettes don't emit unhealthful petroleum fumes."

    – MJM

  34. Kevin Hoover With all due respect, I'm not sure what planet you grew up on, but here on Earth "the vast majority of non-smokers" used public places quite freely throughout the last century when smoking was allowed virtually everywhere outside of dynamite factories.

    – MJM

  35. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden I agree that vehicle emissions are unhealthful. I don't agree that we can't solve the cigarette smoke problem until we solve the vehicle pollution problem, or that we have to do both or neither.

  36. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden That seems to be what's known as an argument from antiquity, aka an appeal to tradition. A logical fallacy.

  37. Kevin Hoover , it would be an argument from antiquity if I said that because people smoked freely in the past that they should be doing so again. That is NOT what I said. I said that you were incorrect in arguing that the "vast majority of nonsmokers" were "not allowed to use public spaces." They were clearly allowed to, AND they did so, with virtually no complaint and no perceived harm. Your statement was incorrect and I corrected it.

    – MJM

  38. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden I left something unsaid, contributing to confusion; my bad. The vast majority of nonsmokers have been unable to use public spaces without having other people's health-degrading substance dependency (smoking) inflicted on them as well as the primary victims. That is what the new law abates.

  39. Kevin, I have to admit that I find it rather strange that you feel that being able to sense a scent in the air represents having something "inflicted" upon you. If you're at a park and I'm using its BBQ facilities to grill up some franks, am I "inflicting" my habit of burning bits of dead animal carcasses upon you? Would that be a sane way of looking at it? Or would it indicate some sort of mental problem? Did you see my recommendation to another poster above about checking out ASDS? It might be good for you to do as well.

    – MJM

  40. Or what if I'm at a restaurant, and order up some steaks? Most restaurants refuse to move their meat cooking facilities to a separate building and instead have this quaint idea that simply producing smoke and fumes in a separately ventilated room is adequate. (I'm guessing you don't agree with that idea, am I correct in that?) Should restaurants be required to remove such facilities from buildings where people are trying to eat healthy food with their families? Or, at a minimum, be required to prepare meat products only with boiling and microwaving? Granted, a boiled burger might not seem quite as tasty, but you wouldn't be inflicting meat-cooking fumes on me and my children.

    – MJM (who doesn't actually have any children tagging along at the moment, but someone else might…)

  41. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden Conflating the smoking ban with an absurdist position on food smells doesn't address my basic issue.

    My basic issue is, why should a majority of people who care enough about their health to not smoke, be forced to smoke and suffer ill effects by a minority of people who have a substance dependency?

    Address that issue convincingly and you won't just move me, you'll seriously undermine the premise of the ordinance.

  42. Kevin Hoover the very fact that you consider being in a well-ventilated space with someone who is smoking as being equal to smoking yourself indicates a severe problem. After all, if that was true, then there's no harm in people smoking if they're going to be around smokers. You're saying they're smoking anyway, right? Let's clarify something at the moment however: are we talking only about indoor bans, or outdoor bans as well? And are we talking just about your personal idiosyncrasy regarding scents or are we talking about real and significant health effects? Clarifying those bases will make the discussion less confusing.

    – MJM

  43. btw, don't pretend that I was just talking about food "smells." I was also clearly talking about the very real exposure to pollutants (i.e. basically any chemical added to normally pure air) that such smells indicate.

  44. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden Address the involuntary health impacts of second hand smoke. All else is sideshow.

  45. Kevin Hoover

    Years ago, when our city started enforcing restrictions on unleashed dogs at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, we heard the same illogical arguments that we hated dogs, that the homeless were being targeted, that we were haters and so on.

    We had biologists talking about the negative impacts on migratory waterfowl, individuals who had been chased and bitten by loose dogs and tons of other evidence that the loose dogs were a serious problem.

    But a few unreasonable dog enthusiasts refused to acknowledge any issue with them, or compromise in any way for the betterment of the environment.

    Anything but face the core issue – the health and quality-of-life problem that is second-hand smoke.

  46. Kevin Hoover I would partly agree, at least in saying the two do not need to be treated equally and simultaneously. The definitive vehicle pollution and killing of innocents problem is hundreds or thousands or times greater and should be acted upon with far greater urgency.

  47. Kevin Hoover Fine. Happy to. Generally there are no involuntary health impacts of secondhand smoke in the well-ventilated indoor areas available in modern well-designed workplaces or in outdoor areas. If you disagree with that statement, please cite two or three of the STRONGEST specific and generally available studies that you believe clearly show such impact and that you are willing to defend. That way you can't accuse me of doing any cherry-picking.

    Go ahead. All else is sideshow… as someone once said.

    – MJM

  48. Kevin Hoover

    Michael J. McFadden OK, here's a link to the EPA findings on second-hand smoke.

  49. Kevin Hoover I asked you, very clearly and specifically, "please cite two or three of the STRONGEST specific and generally available STUDIES" The EPA findings are NOT a study.

    PLUS: not a single one of the studies used in the preparation of that Report examined the sort of conditions you would find "in the well-ventilated indoor areas available in modern well-designed workplaces or in outdoor areas"

    So does this response from you mean you were totally unable to find even a SINGLE study, much less multiple ones, to back up your stance?

    – MJM


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