Here's another viewpoint on the one-year anniversary of the smoking ban. Have you heard the Hawaii Public Radio commentaries by Tony Oliver, a Kailua resident, playwright, former librarian at DBEDT, and a proud smoker (unfiltered camels no less)? He also happens to be a golf buddy, and while we don't have the time to play frequently, over the past year, boy have I gotten an earful about that smoking ban bill passed by the legislature! Probably a shameless ploy to ruin one's putt, but entertaining none the less. One of his first commentaries for KHPR was on this issue; what follows is an edited version:
(I stand corrected. The author informs me that the following was not from the radio commentary, but as an opinion piece, written in response to a 2/2/05 Honolulu Advertiser editorial, "Get cigarette butts out of our beaches." It was published in an edited version as a letter to the editor. That's what happens when you fret about blogging and pie crust at the same time.)
Will the legislators adjourn this year and congratulate themselves on passing a bill that further criminalizes a minor offense? Will they? One can hope not.
One can hope that, instead, they will address real issues, suburban sprawl, Byzantine traffic, and outdated sewage systems. One can hope.
Of all the sources of pollution in our state, smoking is certainly the most easily identifiable, but clearly it is a minor one. The perpetrators are visible and might even be a minority. In the contemporary climate of Puritanical repression, they are also cowed by do-gooder vigilantism, excessively taxed, socially marginalized, and publicly ostracized. Why not go after them? They are easy targets.
Much easier than going after real polluters.
The shameless use of an image of toddlers munching on cigarette butts may move the holier than thou to rally around this ersatz issue, but it was intellectually dishonest.
When you say, "Let's reclaim the beaches and parks for healthy living. Isn't that what Hawaii is all about?"; shouldn't we ask, is that all Hawaii is about?
If this idea is a slavish copy of the ludicrous repression one now finds in newly-Calvinist San Francisco, shouldn't we ask the question - are we in California? Thankfully, no, we are not.
We followed their lead and covered our land with tract homes that no one can afford, and highways that slash through the land, now this?
The police might soon be empowered to cite and maybe even arrest and jail these tobacco miscreants. By criminalizing smoking in parks, we can also make arrest statistics much better. What next? Reinstating stocks in the public square? Flogging? Stoning? Might the police not be better employed in fighting real crime?
One is reminded of former Mayor Anderson's ill-fated rounding up of innocent beer-drinkers on the beaches. That went well, didn't it? For those who have forgotten, she was not re-elected.
Pass a bill like this and then what? A return to Prohibition? Banning hibachis?
Enough is enough. This isn't Singapore.