Op-Ed: Smoking ordinance must be enforced

Glendale’s Fresh Air Ordinance (via the Neighborhood Services Division of the Community Planning Department) is a thoughtful attempt to protect nonsmokers from the toxic effects of residual cigarette smoke in “common areas” of the city — including common areas of apartment buildings.

It would be wonderful if all smokers in the city obeyed that law. But they don’t. What happens when a nonsmoker puts in a complaint about free-for-all smoking in their building? Once Neighborhood Services places no-smoking signs that are ignored, and sends enforcement officers out to talk to noncompliant smokers whose behavior remains unchanged … then what?

Smokers in apartment buildings who refuse compliance with the “only smoke in designated areas” rule can then proceed to harass nonsmokers in the building, blaming them for what they consider unwelcome restrictions. Where is Neighborhood Services’ protection then?

Nicotine is a drug to which smokers become addicted. Nicotine addicts often don’t take well to anything that restricts them from indulging in their legal addiction. Some do act out, as is the case where I live. Building managers can only do so much to enforce the law. They can’t be everywhere, all the time.

Benign suggestions like “call the police” or “document violations and tell the manager” aren’t enough. One reasonable solution might be to create a special division of Neighborhood Services to handle the backlash created by angry retaliation from smokers.

The health of the harassment victims can be affected by the stress of their situation and the continued exposure to residual smoke, and their property can be vandalized by the more sociopathic smokers. Who covers the costs of such damage? The building owner? The individual smokers in civil lawsuits?

Neighborhood Services should, I say.

Does City Hall think that passing a Fresh Air Ordinance is enough of a gesture, and no repercussions are even considered? But they happen. Just as lung cancer from cigarette smoking happens.

Once Pandora’s Box is opened, the furies must be handled. Glendale needs to either follow through on consequences of ordinances they pass or stop making empty gestures.

Some of us are paying the price.

About the writer

Nance Parry is a Glendale resident.


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