Santa Monica Patch reader Anthony Hitt submitted the following letter to the editor on Monday:
I've been paying attention to . While we may have strict anti-smoking laws in Santa Monica, public awareness and enforcement appears to be virtually nonexistent based on what I routinely see most days in the area.
This morning, while walking my dog, I walked through secondhand smoke three times. In each instance, the smokers were in violation of the current regulations that clearly state that smoking in “any public park" (one smoker was in the park where Santa Monica crossed over Ocean Avenue); anywhere on the promenade (one was at Santa Monica and Third); and “within 20 feet of the entrance, exit or open window of any building open to the public” (one was at Broadway and Second in front of ’s entrance).
Unfortunately, this is not unusual in any way. Last night, after seeing a movie on the Promenade, I had to walk through a smoke-haze created by three smokers at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Third Street—near the old Jamba Juice.
What makes this more distressing is that there were two Santa Monica police officers standing within 15 feet of the smokers. A few weekends ago, I asked a smoker to put out his cigarette during the farmers market, only to have him roll his eyes at me and put it out on the pavement—leaving the butt behind.
I understand that has a lot to do, and citing smokers may not be a high priority. But why have these “laws” if no one knows about them or requires compliance—especially in the highest traffic areas of the city?
It seems to me, at the very least, “No smoking. Penalty up to $500.” signs could be posted in conspicuous locations around the promenade (near bus stops, for instance) and in . While Santa Monicans may realize and appreciate our city’s anti-smoking efforts, many of our visitors may need to be educated.
A few tickets wouldn’t hurt either. My guess is that an officer on a one-hour walk on or near the promenade would easily produce at least 10 fines. Ten x $100 (the stated fine for first-time offenders) would pay for itself and generate the funds to pay for the signs.
Just do you know, I'm not "that guy.” Frankly, I would like to be more of the type of person who speaks up or takes action more often. But, as someone with asthma who grew up with parents who chain-smoked in our home and the family car on long road trips, I love that our city is trying to do the right thing based on overwhelming evidence that smoking is unhealthy for smokers and those who breath in their secondhand smoke.
What do you think about Santa Monica's anti-smoking efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.