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COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:City shouldn't control smoking

April 11, 2007|By Tim C. Tallmadge

I do not like to breathe outside second-hand smoke from others ("City Council firms up ban on smoking," Saturday). But if I find myself in a situation where others' outdoor smoking bothers me, I move away from it.

I don't need a law to tell me to do this, it is common sense. It's kind of like when someone who has the flu sneezes. The best advice is to get away from it. Are you sure you want to criminalize outside smoking? Are we shooting for utopia here? You need to tone it down a bit.

It has been said that a democracy fails after roughly 250 years because the laws enacted by a relatively small, vocal minority become so restricting of the personal liberties of others that the population gets fed up. A tyrant will surface and a full-blown dictatorship will ensue. Are we there yet? No, but we're getting there.

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Isn't there a better way to do this than such an over-reaching law? Shouldn't the registered voters decide if this is a road we want to go down, instead of a handful of elected officials? This is a perfect example of an area of public policy you were not elected to address. In fact, I voted for some of you to tackle the big issues. Outside smoking wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I checked off the box on my ballot.

My questions would be:

1. Does anyone on the City Council know anyone who has come down with cancer or health issues directly related to breathing "outside" second-hand smoke on Burbank public or private property? If you answer yes, you are being less than honest. The key word is "outside."

2. Is "outdoor" second-hand smoke more harmful than the thousands of cars spewing toxic fumes as they pass by the areas mentioned in the ordinance? Of course it isn't, but you can't ban driving a car.

3. Is there a less intrusive way to address the concern without a blanket law saying private property and business owners need Mother Burbank to say no to smoking outside? What's next? Are you going to try to ban the Handy Market from grilling my delicious tri-tip on Saturday mornings because the fumes billowing out of the grill are harmful to passers by?

4. Regarding enforcement, is this the best use of our Police Department's time? What is the fine going to be for smoking outside? How much jail time does smoking outside get you?

What we really need is a compromise. It is very simple: No outside smoking on Burbank city property; outside smoking on private property is none of the city of Burbank's business.

If a business owner doesn't want outside smokers on the premises, they can post a sign that says "no outside smoking."


  • TIM C. TALLMADGE is a Burbank resident.

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