October 2009 home page


Butt Out!
Dave Druker | 11th Street

As the Del Mar City Council debates a modification to the current no-smoking ordinance, it makes sense to look back at the history of no-smoking ordinances in Del Mar.
In 1987, former Mayor, Dick Roe, placed the Del Mar Health Initiative on the ballot. This ordinance would have outlawed all tobacco smoking on the beaches, parks, streets and sidewalks of Del Mar. At this time no-smoking bans were few and far between for any city in the whole country. Prop N at that time was turned down by the voters by a vote of about 60% against and 40% for. One of the arguments against the initiative was that it would be impossible to enforce.

In the early 1990s the City Council created an ordinance that banned smoking in restaurants, bars, offices and other enclosed areas. This was a forerunner to a state-wide ban implemented a year or so later. This ban did not include open areas in restaurants – patios, terraces, etc. At the time restaurateurs put forth the argument that it would hurt their business. In actuality, restaurant and bar business picked up as non-smokers felt more comfortable going out.

In 2005, the City Council expanded the ordinance to include beaches, parks and street ends. One of the major rationales for this expanded ban was the mess that cigarette butts were creating in these spots. Thanks to Keep Del Mar Clean, specially designed trash receptacles have been installed all over Del Mar to keep the “butts” from being dropped on the street and beaches.

Now that we have more sidewalk cafes, there is a call to ban smoking on the streets and sidewalks. This looks like déjà vu all over again.

In a recent article by Logan Jenkins (August 9, 2009, Union Tribune), while both praising and lambasting Del Mar, he did have a recommendation for solving two problems with one ordinance – ban smoking while driving through Del Mar. If 20% of the population smokes, then we could cut traffic by 20%?

As I have stated in the past, politicians can try to ban cancer, but only scientists and physicians can cure cancer – my brother Brian and I are a perfect example of this.


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