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By Robert Gehr

March 2, 2015 (El Cajon)--In this writers’ opinion - No!

The city where I live, El Cajon, adopted a ‘No Smoking policy’ effective since March of 2008.

Since then, I have personally witnessed people blatantly smoking cigarettes, cigars, and vaping (e-cigarettes) in public, wherever they choose to do so. Specific areas such as; city parks, at public benches in the downtown area, in front of most stores, restaurants and businesses are common places for smokers to ‘enjoy’ their addictive habit, while at the same time ‘forcing’ non-smokers to inhale the toxic smoke or vapor.

Complaints / concerns to city ‘officials’ seem to fall upon deaf ears. I’m told (and it’s written in the municipal code) that the law is designed to be ‘self enforcing’ - seriously?

I’m sure there must be some smokers who grudgingly cooperate with no smoking laws. Even those who have rules ‘imposed’ on them in a no smoking apartment building.

Yet the many cigarette butts tossed carelessly upon the ground seem to dictate the prevalent attitude that most smokers will do what they want and no one can tell them otherwise!

What these inconsiderate folks fail to recognize is, what the affects of secondhand smoke can do to innocent victims who are inundated with the foul smelling odor and it’s by-products. The scientific data is quite clear. Maybe ignorance is bliss…

Trying to ‘reason’ with some smokers is nearly impossible. They usually want to argue with a request like “please smoke somewhere else” with an attitude infused with anger that someone dare ask them to be polite and smoke in another location. Even after ‘reminding’ them about the no smoking law, some want to continue their diatribe. Seriously, what’s wrong with people? Respect goes a long way in creating civility.

I’ve been in a number of near physical altercations with smokers who flat refuse to play nice and wish to assert their ‘right’ to smoke wherever they choose, even knowing another person is being subjected to it. No matter if the smoke affects someone with a bad smell or even a physical reaction  such as an asthma attack which can result in a person being hospitalized after breathing in secondhand smoke. Could this be considered assault? All this drama despite the signs posted which indicate ‘No Smoking allowed within 25’ of this area’ as required by the municipal code. Some businesses have these, many do not.

Then there’s the smoke damage caused to vehicles and building interiors. An apartment that a smoker has occupied requires a significant amount of dollars to rehabilitate before a new tenant can move in, typically thousands. New carpet and padding, 2 to 3 coats of paint, deep cleaning to remove the sticky, discoloring residue clinging to every surface, and so much more. The odor left behind can sometimes be smelled for months afterward.

Additionally, there is the glaring pollution effects caused by the toxic cigarette butts carelessly flicked on the ground everywhere one looks. Doubt what I say? Pay attention to what type of trash is littering the earth we must live on. An eyesore to be sure, yet so much more than that!

Cigarette butts by count, are the most contributed item which pollutes our environment. Literally millions are discarded every day, worldwide. Local beach clean ups report the same problem, again butts outnumber all other types of debris. This, despite a ban on smoking at the beach! Go figure…

And don’t forget the fires caused by careless smoking - forest and homes alike.

Why the lack of law enforcement? Citations issued would be a source of revenue and just may encourage smokers to adopt better habits and be polite to non smokers.

According to the El Cajon municipal code, businesses are supposed to comply with proper signage and enforcement as well. Do they? Not so much.

More smokers ‘outposts’ could help as well. These would allow smokers to puff away their health without bothering others and also help contain the many cigarette butts currently and carelessly tossed on the ground.

Another suggestion, allow restaurants and bars to create smoking areas.

If smokers would just use common sense, be self aware, polite, use an ashtray and smoke their product at a distance from others…

Thank you.

The opinions in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact the editor at:



if people want to smoke let

if people want to smoke let them .. if a business wants smoking so what non smokers will go else where it is called the free market.

The trouble with that argument:

That's how it was years ago, and most restaurants and other public places like stadiums were so smokey that those of us with allergies, asthma or sensitivity to the smoke couldn't go to many places we wanted to go. I stopped going to a lot of places because I would come home wheezing, not to mention reeking of smoke. I sure wouldn't want to take kids into that kind of environment, either. Smoking exposes others to a health hazard that is clearly established. I am all for banning it in public places and ENFORCING it. Too many people I care about have died of smoking. If smokers want to pollute their own private property, fine, but others should not be subjected to those hazards or the stench.

Not to worry

Your Government will take care of you. Pretty soon all sharp objects will be banned and people will be required to wrap themselves in bubble wrap when they leave home. Wonder what the author thinks about smoking the "gateway" drug everyone wants to make legal?


Good comment. Smoking is bad. My mom died from lung cancer after years of smoking.