Comment of the Day: 'Leave the Smokers Alone'

The American Lung Association graded local cities for their anti-tobacco policies, suggesting plenty of room for improvement. But how far is too far in the war against smoking? See what the community is saying and share your thoughts.

Where there's smoke, there's fire — and things are certainly heating up in the debate about tobacco. Smoking is becoming increasingly less socially acceptable, perhaps leading to an outright ban one day. But is it fair to shun smokers? Or are bad habits a civil right?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The American Lung Association recently graded local cities for their anti-tobacco policies, and not one Contra Costa County town got an 'A'. Pleasant Hill and Martinez both got 'B' grades, Concord got a 'C' and Walnut Creek along with the cities of Lamorinda landed 'F' grades. In response, Patch users lit up a debate about smoking.

On the Concord Patch Facebook page, Jennifer Stout says that it doesn't matter about anti-tobacco policies. Smokers are going to "light up anywhere they please" despite the rules.

Jack Grant operates a mobile cigar lounge in the area. He says he doesn't know how far cities will have to go to meet the standards set by the American Lung Association, unless it would include banning smoking in homes as well as public places. But, he added, "I couldn't agree more about banning cigarettes!"

Commenter Zach McCaslin says that smokers "have increasingly become a minority in our society, and look how readily we oppress them." He says that the focus should be preventing children from becoming smokers, "while allowing adult smokers to smoke responsibly."

McCaslin goes on to say:

"We don't need a law to enforce smokers to be considerate. A smoker that is very inconsiderate should just be cited for disturbing the peace. All these blanket bans are overkill, and show a lack of sensitivity to the cares of smokers. If a person smokes in an outdoor nonsmoking area, and no one is anywhere near them, should they be cited? Are we punishing them only when they disturb others or are we just punishing them for being smokers? I don't smoke, but it just rubs me wrong the way smokers are being treated like vagrants or criminals. They are normal people like anyone else, maybe with a bit more trouble on their minds than the rest of us that makes them need a cigarette. They deserve a little consideration. Just because there are more of us than them, doesn't make it right to treat them badly."

Commenters on the Lamorinda Patch Facebook page said they were surprised by the area's 'F' grade from the American Lung Association because they "never see anyone smoking" around town. Gail Finkelstein of Lafayette says, "either let smokers smoke or we should quit selling cigarettes here." She adds that she has wanted to quit smoking for more than 20 years.

On the Walnut Creek Facebook page, Gina Borgognoni-Wilton says that "you can pretty much wherever you want in Walnut Creek." She adds, "I don't smoke, but I think that's the way it should be. I'm not in to having people's rights taken away!"

But commenter Andrea Garcia Pezel disagrees.

"I constantly hear how smokers have rights too, but what about the rights of non-smokers?" she asks. "Why should I have to be affected and be subjected to toxins because of someone else's choice? I'm also more acutely aware now that I have a small child who is walking and is at the perfect height of where people hold their cigarettes. I don't feel like Walnut Creek has done anything to address this issue."

Are you all fired up about the smoking debate? Do you think smoking should be banned, regulated or accepted? How? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

CJ January 22, 2013 at 07:34 AM
Why MarKD? Why is that so outrageous. When I was a kid my father who was in construction told me he would NEVER hire a pipe smoker (and this was in the 70's). Because they are constantly fussing with the damn thing and using it as a way to NOT WORK. Smokers insist on multiple breaks all day, have poor health (generally) , and smoking is nothing more than a form of self medicating emotional/behavior/mental issues. Who needs that? I've seen people deemed too fat to hire. Same thing in a way. It is entirely within a person's right to decide that smokers are just not fit for certain jobs if that's their opinion and increasingly it is. No need for a union issue Cheryll, you'd never even get past an interview. I will defend your right to smoke, but you cannot then criticize another person for choosing to not be associated or around it. It was purely your choice to smoke.
CJ January 22, 2013 at 07:37 AM
Only in prison are cigarettes used as currency. If that's the bar, it's pretty low.
Jose January 22, 2013 at 07:38 AM
UNBELIe=vablle!! We are IN complete agreeMENT! When a Man has Murder4d Domeone, theer is al2ways a bueatifull, no, MANY butiful woman. Is There Anything Else?
MIKE ALFORD January 22, 2013 at 07:41 AM
I wloud like to think that the guy that built his own company and worried about his workers breathing secound hand smoke ---- its his company he built it --- he made it -- without him the company wouldnt even exist ! ----- So this being America -- and a free enterprise system ---- He DOESNT Have to Hire ANYONE THAT Doesent Go Along With His Way Of Running HIS COMPANY ! And If Some Over Paid Under worked Pom Pass Ass Comes up and tries to tell You How & Who You Have To Hire --- You Need to tell him that your glad he Came by Because you really needed to have a good laugh ! and that if he wasnt out & off your property in 30 secounds that you would interduce him to the nearest Trama Unit !- Hey its YOUR COMPANY and this AMERICA
MIKE ALFORD January 22, 2013 at 07:52 AM
HELL NO ! Jose ----- There Isnt ! ------ I Look At As GODs GREATEST GIFT TO MAN ! I Cant Think Of Anything Better !
Jose January 22, 2013 at 07:53 AM
That's not the bar, actually. In WWII, the second war to end all wars, cigs were handed out as rations, and, of course, cigs had value with all of the addicts, i.e. all of the gi's. I would imagine that chocolate bars had value, too, because while technically not addictive, who doesn't love chocolate, especially when your sweetheart is many timezones away and people are trying to kill you from time to time.
Chris J Kapsalis January 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM
I have a lot of endurance. Hiking, working, smoking doesn't seem to cause me any harm in that area. But the smell, and cost, fingers being burned, trying to fly for hours without a cigarette is not fun, just the fact of being hooked and not being able to stop, the list goes on as to why I hate it, most of all a higher probability I will die prematurely. But we all die, and most people I have seen die did not die easy. I would like to live a long life. Get a lot done. So I want to quit. But I think of all the chemicals I have used during work in my life, fiberglass, thick dust cleaning out garages or old house, weed eating, asbestos, of course if I get lung cancer they will go right to my smoking as the case. I still think the numbers are skewed and the science is flawed regarding cigarettes. Why can't something be bad for you without pumping up the umbers to make it look even worse? And as I said before, and without ever being questioned or they would say you are pro cigarettes? That's absurd. .
Chris J Kapsalis January 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM
I see the same thing with numbers of dead in wars or atrocities. It is to further demonize something or someone, like 1 million is not bad enough, they make it 5 million to add to it for their cause in many cases. I know smoking is very bad for me. But many , after learning the truth, throw it all out and think how much more of it is false. Like with marijuana. After they said it will make men grow breasts and all the other lies they said about it, how many just smoked it thinking it is all bs? It wasn't all bs. But they hurt their cause by lying about some things I feel. They should really get the facts strait and give it to people strait. So say 100,000 die prematurely a year from smoking in the US? Isn't that bad enough, it would probably be more of the truth than 400,000 or 600,000. Even their numbers vary greatly.
Chris J Kapsalis January 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM
We used to gamble with cigerettes. Play dice or cards. Also yes on the street cigerettes are as good as money in they happen to be a smoker.
Chris J Kapsalis January 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM
@ CyZane, Cigerettes I believe are harder to quit than all those you mentioned as I said because of the added chemicals specially developed to attack your brain if you stop. I used to gamble a lot, had a problem. I quit that. Might pull a slot machine now and then, but my heart still starts thumping sometimes if I am invited to a pocker game or football bet. Also I cut way down on food and lost 30 pounds, interent, well I have yet to cut down on this. They have things in them that trigger addiction, lights, buttons, sound, things that make it hard to quit I am sure developed to be addicting in some cases. But nothign comes even close to the time and money they have put into making cigerettes, already extreamly addictive, even more addictive.
Cheryll January 22, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Mike, they haven't allowed smoking in the work place for 20 years. He doesnt have to hire anyone he doesnt want to- yes-that's right....right to work=my way or the highway. and by the way we want to pay you $7.50 an hour and hire your kids too. Whatever else you're referring to I dont get. "trauma unit?" this conversation has become entirely rediculous.
CyZane January 22, 2013 at 02:40 PM
'' its his company he built it --- he made it -- without him the company wouldnt even exist ! '' The same could be said for one's bar or restaurant as long as the people working for him/her are consenting to working in a place that allows a legal activity and the people giving him their custom are forewarned. Can't have it both ways on business rights as it suits our agenda! How would you feel if an employer decided he wouldn't hire anyone who doesn't smoke or is not gay for example? His right and privilege in a capitalist world but it doesn't make it ethical or moral especially if the rules are set out clearly that no extra time should be taken off for personal activities/habits/addictions/responsibilities. Statistically speaking there is none more unreliable than a parent with very young children, be it because the babysitter let them down, the kids are sick, doctor appts. etc... Each employee should be evaluated on his capacity to do the job properly not on generalizations and what one does outside working hours otherwise many of us would be unemployed according to the pet peeves of potential employers.
Patrick J. McNamara January 22, 2013 at 06:25 PM
CyZane, philosophically, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If on the one hand you believe that employers are only interested in money and the bottom line, then your concerns about discrimination are unfounded. They will hire whoever can do the best job so as to maximize efficiency and profits. When efficiency and profits are maximized, then the employer is able to pad the paychecks of those irreplaceable employees who made that success possible, thus keeping them away from the competition who might want to steal them away. The employer is also then able to cut loose those employees whom the employer hopes will be hired by the competition. If, on the other hand, you believe that everyone who draws a breath is entitled to a job in whatever enterprise they choose, whether they are competent--or fit into the organization--or not, then you have chosen a very different system of society...one which has been periodically tried throughout history, each time to dismal failure. Pesky human nature I suppose.
Patrick J. McNamara January 22, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Good one Jose. Even in the late 70's when I was in the army the C-Rations came with a 4-pack of cigarettes with every meal. It's how many guys began smoking. We never used them as currency though, well except to occasionally trade a good brand for that coveted olive green can of pound cake your buddy had to offer. OK never mind.
Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition January 22, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Data shows that nearly 90% of Contra Costa resident don't smoke but we also know that secondhand smoke is still a big problem for a lot of people in this County. The County and many other cities in Contra Costa and Alameda have adopted strong secondhand smoke protections laws that create smokefree outdoors and protect people from secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing. The Tobacco Prevention Coalition is actively working to advocate for stronger secondhand smoke protections in Walnut Creek. For more information about the Tobacco Prevention Coalition, email cctobaccopreventioncoalition@gmail.com or call (925) 313-6216.
Patrick J. McNamara January 22, 2013 at 09:41 PM
What does the data show about how many of the 90% are tolerant, live-and-let-live types who don't wish to sign on to your crusade to snuff out the remaining 10%?
Chris J Kapsalis January 22, 2013 at 09:57 PM
I question this. It is not only unpopular and embarassing to admit you are a smoker, you can lose you health care, can go on your perminant medical record for all to see and who knows what else. So are people being honest? We know several "closet smokers", also it does not say adults, and I am sure teens do not admit it too often, I heard 25% to 35% of adults smoke in almost every study I have read. 10% seems mighty low. And also could it be a little bias?
Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition January 22, 2013 at 10:04 PM
The data is from from the California Tobacco Survey and the results for Contra Costa and all the other counties in California can be found at www.cstats.info, through the State Department of Public Health. The California Tobacco Survey (CTS) is a large scale random-digit-dial telephone survey of adults aged 18 and older and is conducted triennially by the University of California San Diego for the California Department of Health Services, Tobacco Control Section. The adult survey data includes information from both a screener survey and an adult extended survey. All years of survey data have been weighted to the 1990 California population by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Please note that the definition of current smoker changed starting in 1999 to include more occasional smokers.
DONALD E. BARKLEY January 22, 2013 at 10:35 PM
THERE IS no HUMAN in the history OF the world... THAT has ever SMOKED less than I! IT IS IMPOSSIBLE AS I HAVE NEVER EVEN HAD ONE BILLIONTH OF A "puff" ON A CIGARETTE"! NOR ANYTHING ELSE! YOU CAN'T GET LOWER THAN //ZERO//!! You CAN ..tie.. never less! STILL I AM NOT THE "OMNISCIENT" one that feel's I should be telling other's "If you don't physically induce smoke in other's" That you shall be punished! I would like all people to not smoke for their own good, but where do end? Caffeine came within just a hair of in the same law that banned heroin, cocaine etc of being included as banned! I find these "ENERGY DRINKS" very dangerous, as studies now show, dO we ban them/ or all caffeine? as to workplace and health/should we be what is already possible/ require a "Complete Family health HISTORY" along with DNA to be used with your "Genetic Pre-disposition" to health issues, as "Hireling Criteria"? MEZA if you "THINK" Joe Camel's NOSE was phallic in nature! Well I Hate to think of men you have seen! Silly BS! No doubt it was evil advertisement!..PHALLIC UGG
Chris J Kapsalis January 22, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Usually there is a plus or minus percent of error. I will have to check it out. I think from my observations it could be more. But these studies are inherantly inaccurate not taking into account certian things. Like who is more likely to take these sruveys or hang up. I hang up. A certain type of personmay take the survey and so on. But I would guss 25%. We could find out by how many packs are sold and the average packs a day a smoker smokes. They sell millions of packs a day. I will do my own little study and see. Not saying yours is wrong, but I have found so many of these studies flawed I am very skeptical of them now. Thanks though for wieghing in.
DONALD E. BARKLEY January 22, 2013 at 10:54 PM
JUST A SUGGESTION: While we have some what 134 plus remark's on this issue// that I doubt anyone would say "Cigarette smoking is good for you".... only over Peoples right to "Make own choices"! PLEASE TAKE A LOOK// at a post by DR. CHEN.... on here also! It has some very GOOD ADVICE about "CERVICAL CANCER"! Sorry it's only SOLID Information//NO Drama// however it just could SAVE A LIFE!! Donald E. Barkley
MIKE ALFORD January 23, 2013 at 02:27 AM
Mr Barkley --- The person you are refering to you have to understand is quite a bit off CENTER to start with It is Constantly self Medicating To start with ! And to take a smoking add and to even suggest that Its In the relim of answering the question thats on this thread ,than to start talking about a Smoking with even using a Sexual Term (Phallic) Well I think I have Made The Point That There Could Be A Real Reason Why It Cant HAVE REAL realationship (with A Man) So you See What Is The First Thing That Comes To Her Mind when She See s A Smoke !!! You had better make sure To Keep Her Away From Any ZOOs Just In Case There Might Be Some Real CAMELs There ! You Know For The Camels Sake !!!!!!!!!!!
Linda Meza January 23, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Sigh, and just when I had a cheering section going on...Try googling Joe Camel and see what the industry buzz was and why the company was told to change its marketing campaign. You've both annoyed me enough. Alford, get a job and Barkley I don't know what your particular issue is, but vent your frustration somewhere else.
DONALD E. BARKLEY January 23, 2013 at 03:26 AM
MEZA You will just say anything! Great Sourses. "LIKE SNOPES.COM" AND URBAN DICTIONARY! YOU TWIT! What else would I expect from a "Hit and RUN" Statement expert! AGAIN PLEASE ANSWER YOUR EARLIER GARBAGE! Linda Meza also commented on Incumbent Mark Ross Details Views. 10/6/12 "Donald, I believe you're making a lot of erroneous assumptions. I had a hand in convincing the current interested party to locate a restaurant at the marina. Prior to my "rah rah go Martinez!" cheer-leading you really don't want to know this particular interested party's opinion. Since I had hand in convincing him of the business potential, it is incumbent upon me to warn him off if the one component I HAVE BEGGED YOU MS MEZA TO/ BE HONEST/ for 3+ months /Tell My "MANY ERRONEOUS ASSUMPTIONS"! Plus WHO AND WHEN were YOU Appointed to try and bring in BUSINESS to MARTINEZ! That TAXPAYER'S will have to subsidize?
MIKE ALFORD January 23, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Do you realize that your dealing with a known nutter (OPPS I MENT NITTER)
MIKE ALFORD January 23, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Do you realize that your dealing with a known nutter (OPPS I MENT NITTER)
Dan Buckles February 01, 2013 at 07:32 PM
There is a reason they call them coffin nails.............
Dennis February 10, 2013 at 06:54 PM
My oh my! Are we not just full of ourselves today. I'll bet you non-smokers have never picked your nose or passed wind in public either. How do you do it? Oh! Maybe that's why you're all puffed up over smoking. Don't hold it to long or you'll explode.
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