« on: June 22, 2006, 12:45:46 AM »
I live in San Diego and I happen to agree with the proposal. Smokers, and I used to be one before I quit in 2000, tend to indiscriminately throw their cigarette butts anywhere and everywhere. Case in point, following this year's memorial day weekend the beaches were inundated with litter left behind by beach goers. The majority of that litter, however, was cigarette butts. Luckily, a team of high school students volunteered their time to clean up the beaches, but this isn't always the case. Smokers littering the beaches with their discarded cigarette butts is a clear cut example of a "tragedy of the commons". Most people, including non-smokers, tend to internalize the benefits of public goods and externalize the costs. This is, quite simply, rational human behavior. To counter this behavior, however, sometimes a community is obliged to legislate in an effort to prevent people from externalizing the costs placed on public goods to the point that they are irreversibly damaged. As to the enforciability of such ordinances some cities in California have already passed similiar laws prohibiting smoking on their beaches with great results. The overall cigarette litter in these communities have decreased dramatically, which indicates that it is working. However, as we all know, correlation doesn't always equal causation. Other factors may have contributed to the decrease: perhaps a drastic increase in the price of cigarettes which stiffled demand. Who knows? In short, I think the proposal is a good idea.