We all know that the world is filled with ridiculous laws. Nearly every country, every state, every city, every town has at least a couple laws that make people say, “WHAT the heck?” There are laws prohibiting donkeys from sleeping in bathtubs, there are laws that ban riding a bike in a swimming pool and there are laws that don’t allow you to whistle for an escaped bird prior to seven a.m. (Hello? What if it’s an early bird out to get the worm; before seven a.m. may be your only chance.). In a nutshell, there are laws that are preposterous, there are laws that are ridiculous, and there are laws that make no sense.
For cigarette smokers and cigar lovers, the laws of California have now joined in the lunacy.
In March of 2006, the city of Calabasas, a rural city in Los Angeles County, put into action the Comprehensive Secondhand Smoke Control Ordinance. In short, this ordinance took the flames of the smoking laws enacted by so many states and fanned them. Instead of just outlawing smoking in restaurants, dance clubs, and grocery stores, smoking became outlawed on sidewalks, on patios, in parking lots, and on city streets. Designated smoking areas were the only places smokers could indulge: if they were caught smoking outside of these areas, they faced being burnt by a $500 fine.
This law in California caused cigar smokers and cigarette smokers, forever divided by their choice in tobacco, to throw down their Camacho’s and their Camels and unite. They thought this law was absurd, but, it turns out, it was only a sign of things to come.
Enter onto the scene Belmont, California. A little San Francisco Bay area suburb, located halfway between San Mateo and San Carlos, recently passed a law to ban smoking in certain residences. While this ban also prohibits smoking in certain public places, such as parks, and entrances to businesses and restaurants, it has gained national attention because it teeters on the rights of a person’s choice to smoke in the privacy of their own home.
The law, universally called the “The Strictest in the Nation,” restricts smoking in an individual’s apartment and condominium. The logic behind this – and I use the word “logic” loosely – is that smoking inside one apartment or one condo can lead to unwanted secondhand smoke in an adjacent apartment or condo.
This law is slotted to go into action in fourteen months, meaning cigar and cigarette smokers in the Belmont area will be crushed as 2009 begins. Individual houses, and private cars, are some of the last remaining places people can smoke in peace. The ordinance, however, will only be enforced if a neighbor complains. Thus it can be resolved by one thing: if you’re a cigar or a cigarette smoker in California, live around others who are as well.