‘Santee Is Ashtray of San Diego,’ Says American Lung Association PR Rep

U-T San Diego story fans the flames of debate over city lacking ban on outdoor smoking in parks.

Is Santee the ashtray of San Diego?

That’s the contention of Debra Kelley, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, whose annual State of Tobacco Control Report Card flunked the city because it stands alone—allowing smoking in parks.

Her comments in a U-T San Diego report Thursday reignited a debate raging in Santee between foes and backers of parks smoking, typified by a letter to Patch from Mayor Randy Voepel and recent blog post by Joe Spencer, who spoke at Wednesday night's City Council meeting on the subject.

The U-T quoted Kelley as saying: “We are so sorry that the inaction of elected officials have made Santee the ashtray of San Diego. It’s a shame since this is a community that seems to take great pride in the quality of life for its residents.”

Respectful In Santee March 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
To Mary: I am the daughter-in-law as mentioned above in my mom's post. Two points I disagree with you on. First your comment "so a playground got fixed quickly". That makes me wonder if you have any children in school because I do and I am certainly glad he did whatever he had to do to get the playground repaired to protect the children. i say good for him and as a parent I thank him very much. Your argument of him not being a citizen loses quite a bit of steam when you argue that if he doesnt pay his fair share of property taxes in Santee that his thoughts are meaningless. My husband and I rent an apartment so we do not pay property taxes. Does that mean our opinions do not matter either? Because thats exactly the point you made with your statements. So if you judge the right to have an opinion by whether they pay property taxes then I guess each and every person living in an apartment in Santee has no opinion as far as you are concerned. That is where your argument falls apart in my eyes.
Dennis Iverson March 18, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I don't know who this guy is, but if he can fix a problem at a school in one day maybe he can fix a major problem in Santee. Fix the timing of the traffic lights in Santee, now that would get him a gold star since no one in Santee can get those lights timed. Leave my smoking rights alone in a open air park in Santee. There are few areas that are left that a smoker can smoke. I believe him to be a citizen, just not a resident of Santee, Respectful, you do pay property tax. Part of your rent goes to paying property tax along with all the other cost that the owner of that building pays.
Mary March 19, 2012 at 12:15 AM
To Respectful In Santee, BTW I do have children in the Santee school district, just not at the school that got the repairs, whatever one that was. Our school is still on the schedule to have ours repaired. I hope Dennis Iverson's post cleared up any problem you had about my comments regarding Mr. Spencer not paying property taxes in Santee. You do rent from a Santee owner, so in essence you are paying Santee property taxes, because he pays them. He is a citizen of Lakeside, they don't allow smoking in their parks, so maybe he should "favor" Lakeside's parks rather than giving us the pleasure of his company at our parks.
joan sullivan March 19, 2012 at 12:22 AM
The US EPA 1993 Report's claim of an estimated RR (relative risk) of 1.19 for lung cancer in nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke means 1.9 cases in 100,000 nonsmokers. Fewer than 2 cases in 100,000 people! That is two-thousandths of one percent. And it applies only to people who breathed indoor smoke for years while married to a smoker. It does not apply to a few wisps of smoke in an outdoor setting. The 2006 Surgeon General's Report made clear that there is no evidence that brief, transient exposure to secondhand smoke has any effect on your chance of developing heart disease or lung cancer. The studies cited by the report reported a small risk following intense, long-term exposure, typically among people who had lived with smokers for decades. Yes, Flannel-Mouthed Carmona said "There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure", but his own report did not back him up. Read the report. It's at: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/report/
Respectful In Santee March 19, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Point taken by both you and Dennis. Still I have a hard time taking a stance like you. I understand you dont want it and its your perrogative to feel the way you do but I see nothing wrong with what he is doing. While I agree with the effort Mom does not but she supports what he is doing. She made a great point last night when we were discussing this. What good does all the complaining by a handful of people on this website do? At the end of the day what Mr. Spencer wants is not at issue. He has to convince the city council to make the change and it doesnt appear that is an easy battle. It boils down to one simple fact are there more people in the community who will speak up for a ban or more people who will speak up against a ban. I also point out how some people on here are a bit two sided In some posts they are complaining he is not a resident here and telling him to go away and in others they are suggesting if he has all this energy and fight in him that he should be working on the power plant project. So he is good enough as a non-resident to fight the power plant but if he touches smoking then he needs to go back where he came from. In regards to your school if you are aware there are playground repairs to be done at your school and they are just sitting there why wouldnt you be on top of that instead of letting them put it off? Im not criticizing you but I am confused as to how you think its ok for them to just sit on it.
Mary March 19, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Respectful - Let me try to explain it differently. The Santee school district has a maintenance department with a maintenance crew, with scheduled work for all the schools. Just like the city of Santee has a maintenance dept and maintenance crew. Santee has many potholes on its roads that must be filled. The city has a budget and a schedule. Just because someone decides that the pothole in front of his house is more important for whatever reason, doesn’t mean he gets to have his pothole fixed tomorrow morning because he threatens to call the media and give Santee a bad name.
Mary March 19, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Part 2 - Playground repairs at my children’s school are not just sitting there. They have been documented and placed on the schedule, but I don’t feel the need to call a TV station or write an editorial to the UT about it. Like I said, his child is attending a Santee school on a inter-district transfer, supposedly because he prefers our School District better than Lakeside’s schools. So I would still like him to quit the bullying tactics on all fronts. He has spoken to the City Council on several occasions about his wishes to ban smoking in Santee parks. The council has not taken up the question for whatever reason, so Mr. Spencer writes articles to the UT and gets a bunch of organizations (that are trying to nanny-state OUR city) together to try more bullying tactics in order to get what he perceives is an issue. The data they use to describe a health hazard from second hand smoke comes from studies regarding restaurants and bars where smoking was allowed, and described it as an issue for employees that were exposed to it on a full time basis, or a homeowner smoking in a closed environment for a substantial number of years. This issue is about smoke that dissipates quickly and is not the cause of chronic health problems. As far as I am concerned, the suggestion to work on the power plant project was acceptable because it effects all of east-county which includes Lakeside.
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 04:02 AM
@Mary I understand your point of view. I would like the opportunity to clarify a few things you just wrote. First I never threatened the School District with anything. I sit on the safety committee for the school district. At our meeting the week before last I brought up the fact there were numerous potholes at my daughters school. The head of maintenance co-chairs this department. She informed me that a work order had been created the day before for this but she wasn't sure when it would be done. I was given a list of reasons why it might take time to address the issues and I found that unaccaptable. While you have an issue about me being in the school district the fact is the school board appointed me to this committee so I have a responsibility to care about safety. I was asked by the chair and other members to speak about issues to the school board. I was chosen because I am a parent and they wanted a parent to be the speaker. Well in the interest of time and because I work with the superintendents office on other things I sent an email over about my concerns. I understand that there are budget issues and staff issues but when it comes to the safety of children none of that matters. Their safety comes first and foremost. There should be no excuse for the delay for repairs when it comes to their safety. I'm sorry if you disagree.
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 04:13 AM
@Mary #2 In regards to the City Council...I did not write articles to the UT. The UT contacted me about doing a story when they heard of what was going on. I was interviewed by phone and the rest is history. I also did not contact the organizations for support to "bully" anyone. The organizations contacted me. I told the Heart Association before I spoke at the first meeting because I know the folks there. But from there I was contacted by the rest of the organizations who supported what I did. I have carried a very respectful relationship with the Council. I know they dont agree with this. So I am making the efforts to get them to change their mind. The only way they will change their mind is if they find that the community at large wants it. They wont change their mind because Joe Spencer wants them to. They wont stick to their belief because a few angry people on Patch yell about it enough. So I am working to bring community awareness to the issue and then see where we go from there. Thats how you bring change. I want to communicate respectfully with you. I hope it is the same on your end. Respectful In Santee made a very good point that it was out of control. I will heed her advice and try and refrain from the harsh tone. I hope you read my posts to you here as very respectful to you.
Motivated Santee Citizen March 19, 2012 at 08:32 AM
Sounds like the truth hurts. Typical smoker mentality.
Motivated Santee Citizen March 19, 2012 at 08:35 AM
Here's a thought: why don't the smokers quit smoking as everyone knows it is very harmful to their health to smoke. It is a win, win for everyone involved.
James Jones March 19, 2012 at 08:39 AM
Motivated..You are wrong, I'm not a smoker and haven't been since 1985.
Motivated Santee Citizen March 19, 2012 at 08:51 AM
Still have that smoker mentality though. Some things die hard. Not here to fight with you. To answer your question above: I would love to help Santee reach a higher level and bring the property values up, etc. It seems that the majority of Santee residents are stuck in the old school hick town ways and like Santee the way it is. It really is too bad, because with a little polishing Santee could be a real destination that a lot of quality people would want to live in. Things like Santee being the only city in the county to still allow numerous things to continue that other cities have under control, one of them being this smoking in the park issue sure don't help remove that backwoods, hick mentality image that Santee has. Again, too bad as property values for one would really climb with just a few issues corrected.
Mary March 19, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I believe volunteers should be and would be capable of the positions they volunteer for. I would like to know if you did a walk-thru of all the Santee schools and prioritized the work needed for safety reasons? Or was it just the school that you daughter attends? I too am worried about the safety of children but I worry about all our children. If you truly were trying to do your job as a member of the safety committee, where are your monthly reports/notes from the ever important walk-thrus covering all safety issues. You can attend all the meetings you want, but when are you going to do the work associated with the titles: P.S. I am not a smoker, just a Santee citizen that wants to inform the public of people's attempts to use data to mislead.
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
@Mary We are a bit off topic with this but its great dialogue. You are absolutely right. I have suggested multiple times that we should be doing walk throughs of all campuses. Thus far I haven't had success with that suggestion at least as it pertains to our committee doing it. Heck I have said I would personally go to each school and walk with a designated person (Principal, Vice Principal) and come back with a report. With all due respect to those involved it seems like our meetings which are held avery few months are not as productive as they should be. It feels like we just have them for the sake of saying we have them. Obviously the situation at my daughters school was because I was there and saw what was wrong. The exact statement I made to the head people were that I hope that all safety issues at all schools would be given top priority. It's not just about my child's school. I will be at three different schools over the next two weeks for events and I will take a look around specifically at trip hazards on the playground. I will be addressing the school board and administration about this topic at one of the next couple of board meetings. There has to be better procedures for addressing any safety issue. I understand delays for day to day repair work...but there should be no delay when it comes to anything about child safety.
Rick March 19, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Joe, I am against smoking and smoking in parks. But we do live in a democracy, if it has been voted on then that is the law. PERIOD!!!
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 07:17 PM
@Rick...no this is not something that has been voted on. It's not really an issue to be formally voted on. This is something that as has been discussed is happening more and more. As has also been stated we are the only city in San Diego County that allows smoking at city parks and on dining patios. Considering that the heavy majority are non-smokers there is no argument there. The question is do more people agree with the Council that its a freedom and the government makes too many laws or do more people feel that its an infringement on non-smokers rights and that there should be laws.
Mary March 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Jeni - If you truly believe smoking at a park violates your freedoms, then don't go to parks that allow smoking. "The big bad government" DOES NOT REGULATE THE SALE of cigarettes. It is legal to purchase them and therefore smokers do have rights also. The issue is the data you are using is not applicable to outdoor second hand smoke. You may not like the smell of smoke, so stay away from areas that allow it. There are many perfumes that are offensive smelling to me but I don't try to make their use illegal. You are entitled to your opinion, just as others are. If a one in a million chance is too much for you to deal with, I suggest you stay off our roads, grow your own foods, and stay out of any facility that posts signs indicating they may have cancer causing agents on the premises.
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM
I at least see the argument you make on some points Mary (and others) but when you compare perfume to second hand smoke I don't get that. You are comparing something that may be unpleasant smelling to you and others but is not linked to causing cancer like second hand smoke is. I think theres a world of difference difference there.
Rick March 19, 2012 at 07:51 PM
That's a "citizen of the year" move: Let's use my position as an appointed member of the safety committee and get my child's school fixed and leave the rest of the schools waiting for repairs to sit on the back burner. Joe is obviously a selfish type person that does whatever it takes to get opinion noticed. He lives in Lakeside but spends time in Santee, therefore Santee issues are his. He isn't trying to improve his community but the one he spends time in. Instead of improving Lakeside's school district he transplants his daughter into Santee's because it is easier. I like your style Joe, keep up the good work. Let me know which school your daughter goes to so I can make sure my kids are safe.
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Rick..do you even read the posts before you respond? Your statement "Let's use my position as an appointed member of the safety committee and get my child's school fixed and leave the rest of the schools waiting for repairs to sit on the back burner" What??? Couldnt be further from the truth. Did you not see I am going to go to the school board tonight or tomorrow to discuss the issue? Here is a paragraph directly from an email that went to the school district when they let me know that my daughters school was being addressed: I hope this is happening at all schools right away and not just XXXXX. I would like to see procedures in place to address potholes/trip hazards in the play area as they occur as opposed to waiting until there are numerous issues to deal with. Even if it means leaving each school with a suppky of orange cones...or perhaps the folding baracades...something to mark the area off. Leaving them just sit there and hoping for the best is not a very good way to go. It usually helps to have facts straight before you speculate and be so insulting.
Mary March 19, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Mr. Spencer and Jeni - We keep asking for the links to government studies showing that OTDOOR second hand smoke is causing cancer. Make sure it is a .gov link. I can find anything on youtube or a blog. Show me something that is official, not just someone's opinion.
Art March 19, 2012 at 08:18 PM
In the military, there's a saying "Ask for the world, hope for a small country". That statement sums up compromise, and I think Joe would have an easier time trying to sell a "designated smoking" area instead of banning it all together. If they took the time to put a gazebo, maybe a table or some benches, I think it would curbs the butts all over the place, and still provide the children with a clean environment to play in. As for the comments that Santee is hicktown because of smoking in parks, that's ridiculous. Santee has the hicktown reputation because all our homes are older, no HOA, and very lenient policies on RV storage. Some people just don't care about their home values. We moved here because of cheap housing and good schools. If smoking in a park were to drive people out of Santee, then I say good riddance. Here's an interesting link that I found earlier today http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/?page=1
James Jones March 19, 2012 at 08:29 PM
So you believe that an occasional wisp of cigarette smoke is dangerous to children and others? If you believe that, what do you do about car exhaust and BBQs? And please don't accuse me of diverting the argument. My question goes to how sincere you are about the "dangers" of smoke outdoors in an unrestricted area. I maintain that you are simply predjudiced against a certain group and "safety" is not your concern. . . . Leave a comment
Rick March 19, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Your kids playground got fixed right away. That is using your position to bypass the schools that have had work orders waiting. You haven't done anything to improve the other schools as of yet, but "plan" on it because you have been called out in a public forum. You should and the rest of the committee should be investigated for this one action. Which school was fixed?
Joe Spencer March 19, 2012 at 11:24 PM
@Rick...you are being ridiculous with these posts. Once again a false statement. "You haven't done anything to improve the other schools as of yet, but "plan" on it because you have been called out in a public forum" My email was sent the same day that they went to do the repairs last week which was friday march 9th. Thats the email which I copied a portion of in my last post. In it I clearly state that I hope they do the other schools in the same timely manner. Again that was on March 9th...so how exactly is that reacting to "being called out in a public forum" when it wasnt even discussed in this forum until March 19th some 10 days after?
Mary March 20, 2012 at 07:28 PM
And this discussion continues in a new article "The Smoking Gun: My Take on Lighting Up in Santee Parks" in the Tuesday edition of the PATCH.
Motivated Santee Citizen March 20, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I have one question for the smokers: If you know that smoking is very bad for your health and costs a lot of money per month to do, why do you continue to smoke, and part two of my question would be; why did you ever start smoking in the first place?
Kathy March 27, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Because Smokers enjoy smoking. Why do people buy Alcohol, because they like it. Majority of smokers in their 50's + years began because it was the cool thing to do. If you have never been a smoker then you have no idea what you are speaking of. Smoking is also a pain reliever and mental relaxer.
Kathy March 27, 2013 at 08:43 PM
I appreciate that the Santee City Council will NOT be Bullied into anything they don't agree with. The other cities were too weak to stand their ground and support our Rights. PUBLIC PARKS are key word which means Anyone can enjoy the Parks, not just the ones who think they own the Parks. Our Parks are very large, there is plenty of room for ALL of us. Geez, what would the Non-Smoking Holier Then Thou do if they didn't have this to whin about? Hey, I have an ideal, do something worth while and go after all of the Pot Smokers or do you approve your children to inhale that Marijuana smoke? I just hate whiners, they are just weak and have no life. Life is short, enjoy it.


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