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Community Commentary:

City must enforce smoking ban

January 05, 2008|By Michael White

It is with profound disappointment that seven months after the passage of a smoking ordinance (“Smoking ban is approved,” March 31, 2007) I see evidence of frequent and flagrant trespass, by some oblivious to and others deliberate and defiant of a law the city of Burbank took ostensible pride in enacting.

It was with rightful credit that Burbank perceived itself to be among the vanguard of a trend evident not just on a national but worldwide scale; proud to be a true leader of progress in a field that is replete with pressing need of exemplary, assertive and courageous guidance.

The folly, danger and expense of smoking has been revealed and irrefutably proven by countless studies. The benefits credited to the absence of smoking, direct or secondary, are beyond reproach and fueling this sensible course across the globe.

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Claims that anti-smoking measures would negatively affect business have been disproved in each of the ground-breaking cities, states and countries that have taken to implementing such measures. Initial outcries by vocal minorities were soon followed by acceptance and left economies unscathed.

Like any change of a familiar pattern it requires a pro-active approach.

Passing an ordinance is one thing; implementing and enforcing it effectively quite another. Yet other cities have proven successful. Calabasas representing the sparkling jewel of a winning formula that employed sufficient education, effective signage and commensurate police involvement nipping any hesitance of compliance in its infancy. It is now well recognized, respected and accepted for its leadership. It is a template the city of Burbank should not be too proud or hesitant to consider adopting.

Police enforcement has been rather negligent. I observed one officer chatting with smoking employees of the downtown Starbucks. Another officer smoked right in front of the police station. He simply smiled and shrugged when I referred to the anti-smoking ordinance. Yet another conveyed the relative unimportance the issue has to him.

I’m outraged to find such blatant disregard and lack of a sense of duty. It’s an embarrassment to this city and a disappointment to those who trust this institution to do the job they were hired to do. Just days ago I observed no less than 10 smokers downtown blithely ignoring signs.

A temporary, elevated police presence would go a long way in producing general public awareness that smoking downtown is out.

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