« on: June 24, 2006, 09:24:35 PM »
You posed quite a few thought-provoking questions, and made some very interesting points here. I'll try to respond to most of them, if not all.
1.Why not encourage people to not hesitate to "police" their littering fellow citizen, instead of passing a ban further limiting their liberty to engage in legal behavior?
Asking people, or encouraging them as you put it, to police their fellows citizens would be quite a stretch. Most people, especially given our self-centered culture, don't take kindly to other "ordinary" citizens telling them what or what not to do. I think that if the city of San Diego encouraged its citizens to "police" their fellow citizens by politely asking them to dispose of their cigarette butts in the proper recepticles, this would only end in disaster. We must realize that we live a rude and notoriously unconcerned--i.e., people being concerned about anyone else than just themselves--society. Given this sorry state of affairs, I think your proposal would only result in a number of unwanted conflicts between environmentally concerned citizens and those who are not so much. Namely, smokers who litter indiscriminately.
2.Don't you think any legislation passed should be a fine for littering with butts, rather than banning smoking which is legal?
This would be the ideal solution, even in my opinion. However, I would offer one caveat--the problem of enforceability. It certainly would be easier for an official to glance down the beach and see if someone is smoking in violation of a non-smoking ordinance rather than try to watch each and every smoker to see how she disposes of her cigarette butt after she has finished with it. This may not be fair. I can hear your rebuttal now: "well, that isn't fair. Just because enforcing a fine is more difficult than locating smokers who are illegally smoking--because of a ridiculous law--doesn't make it right". No, it certainly doesn't. But the fact remains that cigarette butt litter is a real problem which calls for a real solution. And, quite simply, a law that cannot be properly enforced is no law at all. Thus, it is necessary to take the more drastic approach because it provides the most realistic opportunity for success, at least a modicum of success.
3.There has not been one legitimite scientific study which shows any hazard from outdoor smoking on others. Yet, part of the "reason" given for the ban is non-smoker's health. This creates a certain "hysteria" where people "hate" smokers and look at them as bad people.You're right there has not been one legitimate scientific study which shows conclusively that smoking outdoors causes harm to non-smokers. In a similar vein, however, the scientific community has failed to prove unequivocally that cigarette smoking causes cancer, particularly lung cancer. What they and subsequently we--the community at large--do know is that cigarettes contain dangerous carcinogenics which lead to the mutation of healthy human cells which, in turn, can and often does lead to cancerous cells. Futhermore, it has been proven, by the scientific community, that the smoke which the non-smoker inhales is twice, if not more, dangerous than that taken in by the smoker herself. This, as you probably are already aware, is because the smoker by inhaling through the charcoal filter is able to dramatically reduce the effectiveness of a significant amount of deadly toxins contained in the smoke itself while the non-smoker is primarily inhaling the smoke in its purest and most deadly form. Now as to whether or not this proves that outdoor smoking is as dangerous to non-smokers as is indoor smoking remains to be seen. However, I will argue this: there would seem to be, at least to my mind, a positive correlation between proximity to smoker and/or smoke itself and the potential for health-endangering exposure.
4.Furthermore, as has happened in San Francisco, the city council is contemplating exempting city golf courses from the ban, since it has been found that about half of golfers smoke on the course. Isn't there a bit of elitist hypocricy here? So I can't smoke on the free beach or park but if I pay to go golfing, ok?At first blush these two situations do seem similar enough to warrant a critical investigation into, as you call it, the likelihood of an "elitist hypocrisy". However, upon further introspection, I believe we can adequately distinguish these two policies enough that the idea of "elitist hypocrisy" will come to be viewed as needlessly hypercritical and unflatteringly suspicious of our local legislators. I think the first distinction that can be made is between public and privates interests. Secondly, a diligent consideration of this issue must put forward the matter of "free" access as opposed to "paid" access, and how the proposed legislation will or will not affect (in terms of 'economics') the parties involved, namely, owners of private property vs. owners of public goods--which is all of us. Admittedly, both of these issues are invariably connected--for that I'll apologize, I'm not intentionally attempting to bombard you with sophistry, but rather I'm thinking this out while I write. With regards to the first issue, the vast major of golf courses are privately owned and operated while public attractions such as beaches and park are owned, even if only abstractly, by the all of us within the community. This fact is obvious as is its consequences, therefore I’ll quickly move on to my second point. You argue that because it has been found, so you claim, that fifty percent of golfers smoke that the city is considering exempting golf courses from this legislation for that reason alone. And this fact has somehow led you to believe that there is some sort of elitist agenda taking root in the city council as its decisions pertain to golfers. (First of all, purely as an aside, I would argue that there is a common misconception that golf is a game for the “elites” of society to the exclusion of all others. I myself play golf, and trust me I’m the farthest thing away from an elitist--as determined by social status or ideology--as one could possibly get). Given the fact that most golf courses are privately owned, and thus operate beneath the profit-generating business paradigm, I think the council members would have done a grave disservice to these owners if they had arbitrarily--in the name of fairness--applied the smoking ban to include golf courses. Think about it, if you’re correct and some fifty percent of golfers smoke and smoking is banned on all golf courses, what your talking about is potentially artificially decreasing the revenue of said owners by fifty percent. This would be manifestly unjust, and an affront to the free market. And it is with regard to interfering with the market, that I most desire my government to not intrude. A thorough consideration of proposed legislation cannot be accomplished by downplaying or avoiding the very serious and likely economic ramifications of said proposals will have on businesses. This is not to say that market considerations are more important than, say, you’re alleged right to smoke. I’m merely arguing that the city council more likely than not gave some forethought, and rightly so, to how a smoking ban would affect golf course owner’s bottom line. Plainly put, I believe their decision had little if anything at all to do with “elitist hypocrisy” and everything to do with economics. The same economic considerations aren’t necessary when it comes to public goods such as beaches and parks.