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The Breeders: Smoking Ordinance Education and Enforcement

The ordinance is only useful if we educate the public about it.

I was very excited about that went into effect on the first of this year. Personally, I am highly sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke — my eyes water, my throat is scratchy, and my nose burns — but it is a proven fact that that smoke causes more than just physical annoyances.

Anyone in my generation already knows how dangerous cigarette smoking is. We all grew up with the commercial of the lady smoking through the hole left in her throat from sugery to remove throat cancer — but, I saw it first hand. I grew up working in my parents' pulmonology practice where I saw the effects of cigarette smoking: heart disease, cancer, emphysema...just to name a few.

But, it wasn't always the cigarette smoker who ended up coming in for treatment. Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous. We even saw the effects in our own family — my mother who grew up in a smoking household was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that has been stongly linked to secondhand smoke (she's healthy now).

That's why when I became pregnant I became even more anti-smoking than I had been before. Now, not only am I forced to inhale someone else's smoke, my child is too. I have never been passive about secondhand smoke. If I'm around smokers I might cough, cover my nose, or I might educate you about just what it is doing to both of our lungs, hearts and other organs. When the new smoking ordinance passed I was looking forward to not having to do any of that when I walked down Park Street. Unfortunately, not much has changed.

I am still passing by smokers on the sidewalk or during street festivals regularly. In order for laws like this to be effective, the public needs to know about them, and unfortunately not everyone in town reads the Patch. When the smoking ban in restaurants passed in California there was a public education campaign with billboards and commercials. The City of Alameda doesn't have that kind of money (and I'm not sure if there are even any billboards in town), but there are some simple ways already in effect that educate the public about other ordinances that would be easy to piggy back on. 

The "revitalization" of Park Street recently included stenciling the sidewalk "NO BIKES OR SKATES." Not allowing skates or bicycles on the sidewalk is also an ordinance that we have educated the public about. How hard would it be to add "OR SMOKING" to the stencil? 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jean Powers July 19, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I agree! I have had allergies all my life and asthma. the other day I wanted to sit by the water and peacefully drink a cup of coffee outside of Nob Hill. There too was a group of people enjoying the outdoors and smoking. There is a post stating no smoking but some smokers seem to ignore it. I think it is also the responsibility of the businesses to tell smokers it is not allowed.
Jeff Mark July 19, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Yeah, and the "NO BIKES OR SKATES" rule is about as well respected and as well enforced. Baby steps, I guess. It could be worse, you could be in Florida. http://alameda.patch.com/blog_posts/california-is-americas-non-smoking-section
Michael July 19, 2012 at 04:58 PM
The "No Bikes or Skates" stencils are ignored. The smoking ordinance is ignored. If there isn't a realistic mechanism for enforcement, then these type of ordinances, while well intentioned, just spread disrespect for law. They may benefit politicians who can pad their political resumes, but they do little to benefit the public. Tax dollars should not be spent to create new laws if those new laws do not include a realistic enforcement provision. Those who are considerate know better than to blow smoke in someone's face; those who are not will ignore the signs.
Alison July 21, 2012 at 02:29 AM
I smoked for 15 years and always said I would never judge smokers once I quit, but I can't help but notice how many smokers there are that really don't care if a stroller walks by them, or how close they are to an open restaurant door. Consideration is important in a small town, and it is disappointing to see such blatant disregard for non-smokers and their sensitivities. After all, it IS smokers that are creating an unpleasant environment for everyone else.
Terri Wright July 24, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Thanks for discussing the no smoking ordinance in your blog post. I want to update Alameda Patch readers on efforts the City has taken to educate the community on the ordinance. Signs paid for by an Alameda County grant were just delivered last week to help educate the public regarding the outdoor provisions of the ordinance. The City will be installing some very cute No-Smoking signs designed by our new Recreation Park Director, Amy Wooldridge at all parks. 12 sandwich board signs indicating that outdoor events like the Park Street Fair are smoke free have been made and the City is working on developing a lending program where folks with special event permits can check out the signs for their events. 500 window stickers have been made and the City is going to partner with local business associations and the Alameda County Environmental Services division to pass out the signs to businesses and restaurants. To help get the word out regarding the housing portion of the ordinance, City staff conducted three informational meetings targeting condominium owners, property managers, and real estate agents in May. City staff and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce are in the process of planning similar meetings targeting businesses, and the City's website at www.cityofalamedaca.gov/Residents/Secondhand-Smoke-Policies contains free downloadable signs, informational handouts, fact sheets, disclosures, and cessation information. Terri Wright, Sr. Mgt. Analyst, City of Alameda.
Stephanie Volkoff Green July 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM
That is fantastic news, Terri. I'm glad to hear the work that went into passing the ordinance will be followed up by a public education campaign - with cute signs to boot! The lending program for special events is also a really great idea. Thanks for all your work.
The Alameda Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be partnering in the process of planning with the City of Alameda City Staff regarding the implimenting of public education programs targeted to the business community. More information to follow.
Al A. Meda September 19, 2012 at 05:51 PM
after working in health care for 20 years, I understand that people who can't stop smoking are as drug addicted as those addicted to heroin and it should as no surprise that since their own health doesn't interest them, neither does the health or comfort of total strangers. I doubt if signs, sermons, or seldom-enforced laws will work.
Gabriel Macy November 27, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I grew up in a family where my dad and brother smoke. No matter how we encourage them to quit, it was very difficult for them. I have asthma because of the ill effects of second hand smoke. I am glad that recently we discovered e-cig and it is working wonders for them. My brother has completely replaced the real cigarette with e-cig while my dad is still struggling, but he is getting there. To me, e-cig is like having healthy smoke or green smoke. Glad to have stumbled this product in one of the forums for second hand smokers. - http://www.e-cig-bargains.com

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