Buying Cigarettes
I came - I saw - I bought

Plenty of regulations on smoking exist already

1. It's very clear from the numbers that education is working

Cigarette smoking isn't healthy. Everyone gets it.

Tobacco products are taxed to the maximum to fund a variety of education programs. There are reasonable laws in place. People can't smoke in restaurants and bars. There's no smoking in city buildings or at our schools or at a department store. Minors are forbidden to purchase cigarettes and retailers are forbidden to sell to minors. All's right in that world. The number of cigarette smokers has consistently dropped.

"About 13 percent of Californians smoked in 2009, marking the lowest rate ever and a 42 percent decline since 1988, state public health officials announced." That's according to California Watch and the numbers are consistently dropping.

2. Burdening our police officers with enforcement makes little sense

There's no need to hold financial carrots in front of cities' noses to impose further draconian regulations that are not going to be enforced. But that's what the anti-tobacco zealots have in mind for Gilroy. The essence of the message is commendable, but the path to over-regulate and impose is not. And, if the anti-tobacco groups continue down the regulation path, it's likely to backfire.

Burdening retailers with another annual tax/fee, passing a law that forbids outdoor smoking in parks and on trails and burdening the police department with enforcement is simply overkill.

"Hello, 911 operator, I just saw someone in a red plaid coat light up a cigarette - at least I thought it was a cigarette at Las Animas Veterans Park ..."

Is Gilroy really ready to send an officer over to enforce that law, and is that the best use of a police officer's time?

Please, before voting for yet another enforceable law, our City Council members should put their common sense thinking caps on.

3. Plenty of health-related positives the Council could work toward

Steer Breathe America and other groups into the classrooms and the community. Work to get the message out via the youth commission or do something positively healthy for the community like work to bring a YMCA community center here. It's easy to pass another law, especially one that's not going to be enforced.

Over-regulation is a bad habit for those in power who misconstrue their jobs. The latest anti-tobacco push is a prime example.

Practicality and common sense have to share center stage with law making for a free society to function.

There are plenty of reasonable anti-smoking laws in place. Let it be.



Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012

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