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Feel Free To Smoke In Santee Parks... But Get Your Fortune Told Elsewhere

Despite anti-smoking laws becoming more prevalent across the nation, Santee remains the only city in San Diego County to allow smoking at public parks.

In a  published on Santee Patch in April 2011, addressed why there were in Santee and why the  was a positive in his eyes. In that Letter to the Editor the Mayor Voepel wrote:

"I see this grade of "F" from our perspective as being the highest grade for "FREEDOM" we could earn. In Santee we believe in life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our City Council thinks long and hard before we restrict or take away one's freedom"

With , I decided to take a look into the Santee Municipal Code.  What I found was a bit surprising.  I've posted a few of the codes from Health and Safety as well as  as well as City Parks followed by comments from me which are in bold.

Title 8 HEALTH AND SAFETY

Chapter 8.12 NOISE ABATEMENT AND CONTROL

8.12.010 Purpose and intent.

The city council finds and declares that:

A.  Inadequately controlled noise presents a growing danger to the health and welfare of the residents of the city;

Can someone PLEASE explain to me how noise presents more of a danger to the health and welfare of people than second hand smoke does?  The American Lung Association, American Heart Association, and the  among others strongly disagree. 

D.  Every person is entitled to an environment in which the noise is not detrimental to his or her life, health, and enjoyment of property;

While the believes each person is entitled to an environment in which the noise is not detrimental to his or her life, health and enjoyment of property... they do not believe each person is entitled to an environment which second hand smoke is not detrimental to his or her life, health, and enjoyment of property.  

8.12.050 General noise regulations

A.  General Prohibitions. In the absence of objective measurement by use of a sound level meter, additionally it is unlawful for any person to make, continue, or cause to be made or continued, within the limits of the city, any disturbing, excessive or offensive noise which causes discomfort or annoyance to reasonable persons of normal sensitivity residing in the area.

The City Council prevents any disturbing, excessive or offensive NOISE which causes discomfort or annoyance to reasonable persons of normal sensitivity yet does not prevent any disturbing, excessive or offensive ODOR which causes discomfort or annoyance to a reasonable person of normal sensitivity. 

Title 12 STREETS, SIDEWALKS AND PUBLIC PROPERTY

Chapter 12.28 CITY PARKS

12.28.180 Disturbing the peace

No person shall disturb the peace and quiet of a city park by any loud or unusual noise, or by the sounding of automobile horns or noise making devices, or by the use of profane, obscene or abusive language or gestures.

While a person is banned from disturbing the peace and quiet enjoyment of a city park by loud noises, profane language or even hand gestures, the City Council does not feel it necessary to ban a person from disturbing the enjoyment of the same park by smoking.

12.28.060 Children

No person shall permit any child under the age of seven years to play in any playground area, or fish, swim or play in or near any lake, pool or drainage ditch, except in areas which are fenced and set aside for infants, unless such child is attended by an adult

According to this a child as young as seven years old can be at a public park unattended within a fenced area playing while an adult stands nearby smoking and the City Council does not see this as a detriment to this child's life, health, or enjoyment of the property.

12.28.130 Gambling and fortunetelling

No person shall engage in fortunetelling, palm reading, character analysis, phrenological exhibitions or demonstrations, or any other like display, demonstration or exhibit in a city park for a charge, fee or donation of money, or any other valuable consideration.

I am baffled as to how the city council does not feel that there should be a ban on smoking in public parks, yet at some point they felt fortunetelling was such a problem in public parks that it was necessary to make a law banning it.

The health risks from indirect, secondhand smoke are clear. The following information was gathered from the American Heart Association's website:

  • A 2006 report of the U.S. Surgeon General states that: "There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke"
  • Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, and decrease coronary flow velocity reserves; all mechanisms that may increase the risk of a heart attack.

The American Heart Association maintains that smoke-free laws should be comprehensive and should apply to all workplaces and public environments, that there should be no preemption of local ordinances, and no exemptions for hardship, opting out, or ventilation. 

Mayor Voepel, the F does not represent FREEDOM... it represents the FUTURE... which is what you and the rest of City Council need to protect by banning smoking at all public parks in Santee.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

James Jones February 01, 2012 at 10:23 PM
What does this have to do with the issue at hand? This is not data for occasional, short term exposure to OUTDOOR second hand smoke. You are way overstating the potential harm from OUTDOOR second hand smoke. The occasional whiff of cigarette smoke, OUTDOORS, is annoying, but a health hazard? I don't think so.
Joe Spencer February 01, 2012 at 11:13 PM
James....what do you have to back up your position that second hand smoke is only a health hazard indoors as opposed to outdoors? I'm certain the agencies I listed above (American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association) would disagree with you. I've yet to hear any of the campaigns for anti-smoking focus on indoor smoking as opposed to outdoor smoking. While I can certainly agree that there is a difference between second hand smoke in a closed vehicle or in a home versus being outdoors, it doesnt mean that a danger does not still exist outdoors. The simple fact is...EVERY city in San Diego County bans smoking in city parks....why doesn't Santee? It seems more stuborness than any legitimate reason. Santee should be a LEADER and this is not being a leader.
Christal Ferris February 02, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I get the Mayor's view. Freedom and all that. I also feel that passing by outdoor second hand smoke is not as damaging as you are making it out to be. Off to search for links. That said, I absolutely hate the noise around here. Oh wee, I chose to buy a home here.
James Jones February 02, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Joe...I never said ONLY indoor second hand smoke was a health hazard. I think the perceived health hazard of outdoor second hand smoke is trivial and doesn't require government intervention. As to your last statement, some people might say that being a "LEADER" would be digging in your heels for what you think is right and not following all the other cities. That would be, being a follower.
Joe Spencer February 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
@James But as this blog points out...why is is JUST about the health factor? Lets assume for a moment that second hand smoke outdoors is "trivial". Why is it that there are oridinances against NOISE being an annoyance and disturbing ones freedom to enjoy....yet SMOKING doenst get that attention? I would tend to argue with you in terms of your definition of leader...BUT this is not one of those times. The entire country if not world has taken on the issues of smoking and second hand smoke. This is more of a Charlie Sheen "winning" type stand.
James Jones February 02, 2012 at 04:59 PM
The noise pollution analogy only would hold up if the noise diminished to silence when you were say, 8 feet away. Annoying noise travels much farther than cigarette smoke.
Diana Deckert February 02, 2012 at 10:10 PM
As hard as I try, I just can't keep my neighbor's smoke out of my place. I've sealed up everything. It drives me nuts. Highly unlikely Santee will legislate his smoking on my sidewalk. Now when my daughter and I try to get a break at the park, it's clear why we run into smoke THERE too. I always thought it was just smokers ignoring rules that no one enforced. So far it was minimal enough that I never looked into it. I didn't realize my taxes were supporting behavior so different from the rest of the county. THIS IS AN IMPT CONSIDERATION FOR ME WHEN I FINALLY(hopefully soon) HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE. I MAY NOT BE STAYING IN SANTEE!! What are the chances of making a change for our parks, so that we can ensure healthy air?
Motivated Santee Citizen February 02, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I love the timing of Prop 29 with all of these posts here and on other threads about smoking. Diana, I would say moving from Santee when you get the chance would be a very wise decision. Too many negatives in Santee including the smoking issue among others that Santee seems to be the only city in the county that allows these issues to continue to be allowed.
Joe Spencer February 03, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Wonderful comment....excellent point of view.....I hope this all leads to change!
Jessica Z February 03, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I too thought the smokers at the playground were just ignoring the rules. If I had known smoking was allowed in the parks and playgrounds I never would have moved here! La Jolla of the east it is not.

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