Town Square

Post a New Topic

Menlo bans smoking in public places

Original post made on Mar 3, 2010

Menlo Park's City Council at its March 2 meeting approved an ordinance banning smoking in some public places, including ATM lines and parking lots. The ordinance declares second-hand smoke a nuisance, enabling people to take legal action against others who smoke in their vicinity.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 11:38 AM

Comments (55)

Posted by dan, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Seriously why can't people just use common sense. Everyone complains that cities, states and countries are broke; but yet we still pay people to write ordinances, rules, and laws that you should be able to handle on a personal level rather than a blanket law, rule or ordinance that costs us money in the process. Use our money wisely, if this type of thing is the only thing to complain about be happy with your life as you are blessed.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Sean,

I think that a more accurate title for your article would be "Menlo Bans OUTDOOR Smoking in MOST Places." The exact wording in the ordinance is "any place, public or private, open to members of the general public regardless of fee or age requirement."

In fact with the addition of the nuisance clause, you would be hard pressed to think of any place that is a safe haven for smokers. The city attorney made it clear that a smoker in his own living room could be sued if smoke was blowing out the window and offending someone on the sidewalk.


Posted by Non Smoker, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Another well intentioned,but unnecessary ordinace. Some leaders just do not undertsand the concept that every time we pass a law someone must enforce it and that enforcement costs the tax payers.

Only John Boyle voted against this overreaching, unnecessary law.


Posted by Tina, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I agree that it should be something that grown adults should be willing to work out amongst themselves. The reason it needed a city ordinance was to help those of us who tried to get our neighbors to be considerate with an explanation of how it (the second hand smoke) is affecting our families health but received rude responses from the offenders. For three years, my family and those surrounding the inconsiderate smokers in our duplexes that are side by side, have not been able to enjoy the outdoor areas of our very close community. I have had no other way to deal with these people as they are not willing to make any changes to avoid the smoke from going in our doors and windows. The law says as tenants they cannot be asked to stop smoking. Well, now maybe it does!
Yeah, maybe we can go outside and play with the dog, barbeque and rake leaves or grow a garden....the neighbors were chain smokers...the minute we stepped outside, they would light up and we would have to retreat. My son has asthma and I am allergic to cigarette smoke. I developed several respiratory infections since they moved in...never had them before...my son had asthma that was completely controlled, now he has had to go back on his preventative meds...coincidence? our doctor does not think so...


Posted by non-smoker, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I'm wondering how this will be enforced. Say I call the police and tell them that I smell my neighbor smoking in his/her back yard. It is bothering me while I sit in my back yard. Well, by the time the police come to my neighbor's house, that neighbor has stopped smoking. There is NO evidence to back me up. So what then? What a HUGE waste of police power in our city. If indeed there is so little real crime in our city to justify the use of our highly paid police officiers, then maybe we don't need such an expensive police force. But, if there is a real crime problem, will all the police going to investigate "criminal" smoking in one's own private residence mean that the police will be unable to respond in a timely manner to dangerous crimes such as robbery, etc.?

This is not just nanny state mentality, but could really put Menlo Park residents in danger.

I just wish this council could make a decision to end the blight on El Camino and increase our sagging sales taxes. How about spending some time on something real and meaningful.


Posted by Non-Smoker 2, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I agree with the above poster, this is out of hand! We need politicians that are going to erase ridiculous laws off the books, not create more of them? I can't wait to witness the first violator of this law, we'll be the laughing stock of the nation. There are so many other hazards that would come first before we even think of cigarette smoke. How 'bout banning autos from stopping and emitting smoke while idling? How 'bout restaurant food smells that make pregnant women vomit? Let's leave the smokers alone, we've done all we can to beat them up, enough already, move onto something more substantial like the blight, or the bloated state worker pensions, etc.! Crazy, crazy, crazy.


Posted by downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm

This is absurd & basically unenforceable. If I were so allergic to smoke from 10 or 20 or 30 feet away, outdoors while I'm indoors, I'd be sure that I rented on premises where smoking on the premises is prohibited by the landlord. There are msny available. The woman who's instigated this because of the downstairs neighbor has evidently so annoyed him that he's unwilling to cooperate with her. She can properly address this with the Homeowners' Association, which has rules regulating community living.
I'm sad that the Council wasted time & energy so they could enact Big Brother rules. The Council should allow the cigar club to continue the use of the patio.
Since the Council has all this free time & enforcement capacity, I'd like to propose a ban on chewing gum anywhere on public property, as that substance permanently stains concrete walkways. I'd also ask to ban noxious cooking odors & make illegal the use of certain pungent spices in private homes & restaurants, as it does escape into public space via ventilation fans & open windows. As a vegan, the odor of burning flesh offends me greatly, so don't barbecue where I can smell it or I'll have to complain to the town. We'll address body odor & halitosis next year.
No, I do not smoke.


Posted by Pat, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I want to thank the Menlo Park City Council for not only
clarifying the air but also the restrictions on local smoking.
Going back East or to another country can be a reminder of how
far we have come in rejecting the smoking habit and the cigarette
industry.


Posted by Non-Smoker 2, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Pat - Are you in favor of eliminating smoking outside too, in public parks or parking lots, etc.? Do you not see the problem with this? We are outside, don't you think that you should be able to move about these areas and do what you wish? The issue at hand is how far the hand of government or policing will extend itself to you, as a citizen. IF I smoked, I could not imagine getting fined or arrested for lighting up a cigarette in the Safeway parking lot, as I entered my vehicle. Again, LESS laws not more. Don't you think?


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:01 am

Another great way to reduce sales tax in Menlo Park..Way to go


Posted by what a joke, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:18 am

so what happens when i am smoking in my car while driving and then pull into the safeway parking lot... is it now against the law to smoke in my car? the squeaky wheel gets the grease... just because one woman keeps going to council meetings a law is created that takes away everyones freedoms... menlo park should be ashamed. Lets have the council start spending their time on important items and quit creating "nanny" laws... i thought i lived in america...it is slowly becoming a place where the government know better than i do how i should live my life... what happened to freedom of choice? it seems to me if Barbara Franklin moved she would have had more free time instead of going to council meeting to try and change how i live my life... this is an embarrassment to menlo park...


Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:25 am

I am happy that this ordinance has passed. Those of us who do not smoke should not have to put up with smokers blowing smoke in our air supply. Good job!


Posted by Chesterfield, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Congratulations to the council and city staff on wasting time on an unenforceable ordinance that will make one person who whined a long time, happy.

The council needs to do a better job differentiating proposals and not merely following blindly because of a perceived politically correct sound bite. And nipping things in the bud earlier on.

The city budget can't afford these meanderings.

Good for John Boyle.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a non-smoker - and disdain other people's smoke. And in favor of no smoking ordinances otherwise. But I realize there's a limit.





Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm

"I am happy that this ordinance has passed. Those of us who do not smoke should not have to put up with smokers blowing smoke in our air supply. Good job!"


[Portion removed; disrespectful language violates terms of use.] Why not ban cars passing through Menlo Park, they are polluting our air too.....Oh wait, despite the opinion of Joanna, its their air too. I detest smoke, and I am pleased to say most of the smokers I know are very conscious of where they smoke.

To ban all smoking in public areas, i.e. streets, parking lots is stupid.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Perhaps the Council takes pleasure in knowing that while they were spending their time on this issue that the long delayed and highly constrained project at the site of Gaylord India's has gone into foreclosure, or perhaps one might say - up in smoke.

Web Link


Well, I guess the Council has its priorities.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Peter, I'm posting this comment on this thread as opposed to the thread on the Gaylord site foreclosure only because I think, in MP, more people will read this. I absolutely agree with your comments on the Gaylord thread, and would urge anyone reading this to take the time to read that. To those who wish to continue to believe that MP's attitudes toward development is not part of the problem in terms of why developers avoid doing business here--reading that article and Peter's comments won't change your mind, but I, for one, have no problem saying--we told you so! Sorry to get off the point of this thread-I'll continue any debate on the other one.


Posted by What a joke, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I can understand not allowing smoking in stores/restaurants (although it should be the choice of the owner, if people don't like it the don't have to go there/work there...) but now that you have pushed the smoker outside he/she can't even smoke there?? In a parking lot?? When does it get to the point of being absurd??


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

This time I'm posting on topic. I am a smoker. While I will readily admit I wish I was not, I also feel no requirement to apologize for the fact that I am. That having been said, As a smoker, I would like to compliment, specifically, Bill McClure and his staff. In an age when cities are passing anti-smoking laws that border on being an obscene breach of individual rights, they proposed an ordinance that addressed the right issues to protect non-smokers from the actions of smokers who do not respect others. I would also like to compliment the city council for not mucking with the ordinance as proposed (sorry city council that's as close to a compliment as you'll get from me). To any fellow smokers out there, something I'll suggest you think about. If there is any part of this ordinance that prevents you from smoking where and when you are accustomed to, then perhaps you have not been sufficiently sensitive to your non-smoking fellow humans. If we smokers do the right thing, there won't be any need to try to figure out how this can be enforced.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm

"I am happy that this ordinance has passed. Those of us who do not smoke should not have to put up with smokers blowing smoke in our air supply. Good job!"

[Portion removed] Why not ban cars passing through Menlo Park, they are polluting our air too.....Oh wait, despite the opinion of Joanna, its their air too. I detest smoke, and I am pleased to say most of the smokers I know are very conscious of where they smoke.

To ban all smoking in public areas, i.e. streets, parking lots is stupid.

[Portion removed; disrespectful language violates terms of use.]


Posted by DA, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Playing devil's advocate:
Cars and leaf-blowers (and ability to employ the people who use them during the day) are signifiers of an affluent society. An ability to smoke in their own yard without disturbing neighbors/'public' air, is another affluent indicator.
This is an effort by a council (and one persistent woman - though it is good that not all councils can be swayed so easily by an individual's will and meeting attendances) to impose more restrictions and taxes (in the form of fines) on the less affluent in society who cannot afford to move if neighbors object to their smoke, who do not have their own yards so use public parks, who may smoke in a car park because they cannot do so where they live.
Under the influence of more 'affluent' drugs, people cannot be detected and publicly admonished because there's no 'sign' (smoke) - only breath/blood tests will show their use.
This anti-smoking ordinance is a restriction to the freedoms of the poorer citizen and the council's time should have been better spent.




Posted by Too Far, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm

The justification for this new law was to address the health concerns of apartment dwellers, however, the new ordinance goes well beyond what was called for. For example:

- it will be illegal to smoke in any outdoor seating areas of restaurants or bars

-it will be illegal to smoke around the pool at a hotel

- it will be illegal to smoke anywhere in a public park, at a sporting event, or at a concert

- it will be illegal for employees of a business to go out into the parking lot to have a smoke

- it will be illegal to smoke at a neighborhood block party

- it will be illegal for a construction workers to smoke on an outdoor job site

- it will be illegal to smoke on a private patio outside of a cigar shop

- Store owners (Safeway, Starbucks, Pete's, Walgreens, etc) be required to remove the ash cans they currently have outside their store entrances

- if you are smoking a cigar in your own backyard and you neighbor gets a whiff of smoke over the fence, they have the right to file a lawsuit against you for creating a nuisance

While I do not smoke, I think that this ordinance goes too far. We might as well say that the 15-20% of Californians who smoke are not welcome in Menlo Park and businesses whose workers or patrons like to smoke should move elsewhere.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Any establishment can create a smoking area outside if they deem fit. And I agree with the city attorney that a lot of this stuff you are worrying about won't happen. No one is going to follow you into a parking lot and ticket you. It is simple to allow the non-smokers who have no choice but to suck up your fumes have some form of protection.

You guys are not listening to the details or reading the details. Get off the homeowner rights kick. You want to smoke, deal with it. Don't make your smoking my problem. Whiners.


Posted by Not So Fast, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Truth - Perhaps you should read the actual ordinance or watch the video of the council meeting.

Web Link

Businesses are prohibited from having smoking areas anywhere that employees or customers can go.

There is a provision for apartment complexes to establish outdoor smoking areas provided that they are at least 25 feet from any place where smoking is prohibited (which is everywhere else).

At the council meeting, Cohen suggested that the owner of a cigar shop put his smoking area on the roof of his establishment in order to get it 25 ft away from the common plaza near the entrance.

Furthermore, the nuisance law is not limited to non-smoking areas. It even applies to areas like private homes and designated smoking areas.

To say that people should not worry about the specifics of the law because the town only plans to enforce it selectively doesn't give me great comfort.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 6, 2010 at 9:22 am

The fact is, a smoker does not have rights. You are arguing this in a circle of homeowner rights when it fact it is a matter of rights for people who don't smoke. Subjecting people to second hand smoke under the guise of individual rights is a joke.

That is the stream of this forum and it is laughable. That smoker shop was given a grandfather clause, if I heard it correctly. Cline took up that point, and others followed.

I did not say don't worry about specifics, what I said was if you are a smoker, deal with it. No one will police the parking lots and the driveways no matter how paranoid you guys want to be. But if ten people start gathering in a driveway and smoke and it gets into an apartment with kids, that apartment owner finally has recourse.

That is what I get from this. These false freedom fighters need to find a reason to spit on this council. So this is the next one.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 6, 2010 at 10:44 am

I am so glad all of the other problems our city faces in these tough economic times have been solved. Oh, that's right they haven't. Hey City Council, quit wasting your time on tis type of unenforceable feel good legislation and get back to work on the REAL problems we face.


Posted by halle, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I*think it is great that the Council is finally doing something ab out 2ndhand smoke!

It sounds like bitter grapes from those who oppose this!!

This is a HEALTH issue. If you oppose this, it could be very disastrous for you in a loved one died or friend died from inhaling tobacco. You that oppose seem a bit SELFISH to me!


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Halle:

it has nothing to do with sour grapes. It has to do with the fact that the information upon which all of this second hand smoke nonsense is built is junk science and has been discredited. It is also virtually unenforceable. In addition, as I said, I think our city faces far greater issues than this and I think the council should stick to the business of addressing those problems. Politicians typically pass this kind of legislation to make it appear they are doing something even though they are not.


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 7, 2010 at 1:14 am

What about the tar trucks? Being stuck behing on of them for three seconds is worse than two minutes of cigarette smoke, but we need tar, so we need the tar trucks and overlook the toxins they release. What happened to our "free" country?
Leave the smokers alone and focus on something more important, and stop wasting our tax dollars!


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 7, 2010 at 8:06 am

Lisa has officially announced this thread dead of logic. Thanks.

We need tar so stop wasting our tax dollars? Was that scribbled on your hand?

Smokers need to get over it. Free marketers need to stop exploiting every policy this council makes to make it a tea bag moment.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I think I could find a more respectful stance on this new legislation if The City of Menlo Park had banned the sale of cigarettes in Menlo Park.....I.E. Do not buy them here, do not smoke them here.

But of course not......The City of Menlo Park is only to happy for you to buy them here......just don't smoke em here.....

[Portion deleted.]


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:24 am

Menlo Voter claims - with no evidence or references of course - that "the information upon which all of this second hand smoke nonsense is built is junk science and has been discredited."
While most readers of this thread are smart enough to recognize unsubstantiated claims I thought it might be useful to include a link to Wikipedia that summarizes the known harmful effects of SHS. Two lines from the article say it all: "Scientific evidence shows that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke causes disease, disability, and death." "Currently, the health risks of secondhand smoke are a matter of scientific consensus, and these risks have been one of the major motivations for smoking bans in workplaces and indoor public places, including restaurants, bars and night clubs." Web Link


Posted by really?, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:21 am

Steve must be unaware that one used to be able to add whatever they wanted to Wikipedia (whether true or not)...


Posted by fresh air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:05 am

I don't know about junk science, but inhaling cigarette smoke makes me and my kids ill. Many people feel the same way. After all, Palo Alto has had antismoking ordinances on the books for years, and it's hardly become a ghost town.

I have to admit that the comment about a tax on poor people made me smile. Cigarettes are expensive -- more than a double latte, last time I looked. Poor people would be better served if they spent that money on some fruit instead.

For those of you who are afraid that this ordinance will transform Menlo Park into some kind of Big Brotherish dictatorship...please. How many unenforced laws are already on the books? Do people drive 45 mph on El Camino? Start construction before 8 am? Ignore the sound restrictions? This new law is equivalent to the "we reserve the right to refuse service" signs you see in stores. If someone is creating a nuisance with smoke, the police now have grounds to charge that person. You're not going to get busted for driving down the street with smoke coming out of your window. Even if you're speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, and talking on your cell phone at the same time you probably won't get a ticket. Lucky for you; too bad for the rest of us.

Thanks to the council for enacting this important health measure.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

I'm allergic to perfume.

Perhaps I shouldn't give this council any ideas...


Posted by fresh air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

I agree with you, POGO. Perfume gives me headaches. I wouldn't expect anyone to ban it because it doesn't have the documented deleterious effects that cigarette smoke does, but I do appreciate the fact that most people around here do not wear much perfume.


Posted by fresh air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

For those of you who need scientific proof:

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

And a few thousand more!


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

Fresh Air:

back at ya:

Here's some other findings that have been taken so far out of context it defies the imagination:


2006 Surgeon General's Report (excerpts)


The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between maternal exposure to secondhand smoke and female fertility or fecundability. No data were found on paternal exposure to secondhand smoke and male fertility or fecundability.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between maternal exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy and spontaneous abortion.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and neonatal mortality.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and cognitive functioning among children.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and behavioral problems among children.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and children's height/growth.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between maternal exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy and childhood cancer.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke during infancy and childhood cancer.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between parental smoking and the natural history of middle ear effusion.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between parental smoking and an increase in the risk of adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy among children.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure from parental smoking and the onset of childhood asthma.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between parental smoking and the risk of immunoglobulin E-mediated allergy in their children.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and an increased risk of stroke.




Studies of secondhand smoke and subclinical vascular disease, particularly carotid arterial wall thickening, are suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and atherosclerosis.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and acute respiratory symptoms including cough, wheeze, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing among persons with asthma.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and acute respiratory symptoms including cough, wheeze, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing among healthy persons.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and chronic respiratory symptoms.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between short-term secondhand smoke exposure and an acute decline in lung function in persons with asthma.




The evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between short-term secondhand smoke exposure and an acute decline in lung function in healthy persons.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and a worsening of asthma control.




The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.




And finally.....




The evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and odor annoyance.




Source: Web Link...

Evidence is inadequate


Posted by Fred, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

The council will have some explaining to do to the outdoor restaurants like: Cafe Borrone, BBC, Vida, Left Bank, Cook's Seafood, Oasis, outdoor areas at the Rosewood and Stanford Park.

[Portion removed]

Why didn't the Chamber of Commerce speak out?


Posted by fresh air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Right you are, Menlo Voter. You also failed to note that there is no link between secondhand smoke and global warming, AIDS, or genocide on the African subcontinent.

Secondhand smoke is a proven health menace, and it's almost entertaining to see the lengths to which you smokers will go to defend your addiction. You will feel happier and healthier if you manage to get rid of your filthy habit, start getting exercise, and donate the thousands of dollars you spend each year to a charity devoted to lung cancer.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Menlo Voter


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Menlo Voter
Again from the Wikipedia article:
"Currently, there is widespread scientific consensus that exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful.[6] The link between passive smoking and health risks is accepted by every major medical and scientific organization, including:

* The World Health Organization[4]
* The U.S. National Institutes of Health[80]
* The Centers for Disease Control[81]
* The United States Surgeon General[2]
* The U.S. National Cancer Institute[82]
* The United States Environmental Protection Agency[83]
* The California Environmental Protection Agency[3]
* The American Heart Association,[84] American Lung Association,[85] and American Cancer Society[86]
* The American Medical Association[87]
* The American Academy of Pediatrics[88]
* The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council[89]
* The United Kingdom Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health[90]
* The governments of 168 nations have signed and currently 164 have ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states that "Parties recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability."[1]"


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm

and as far as public opinion goes:
"Recent major surveys conducted by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control have found widespread public belief that secondhand smoke is harmful. In both 1992 and 2000 surveys, more than 80% of respondents agreed with the statement that secondhand smoke was harmful. A 2001 study found that 95% of adults agreed that secondhand smoke was harmful to children, and 96% considered tobacco-industry claims that secondhand smoke was not harmful to be untruthful.[93]

A 2007 Gallup poll found that 56% of respondents felt that secondhand smoke was "very harmful", a number that has held relatively steady since 1997."


Posted by Lessgovernment, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

How about a law prohibiting obese people from eating in Public.
Did anybody see "Precious"?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Steve:

you don't seriously mean infer we should base scientific decisions on public opinion do you?

Fresh Air:

Wikipidia isn't known for its accuracy nor its scientific rigor. If all of the organizations you mention think second had smoke is so bad, why would the US Surgeon General make the findings they made? Could it be that those organizations think it's bad, but don't have the actual scientific data to back it up?


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Menlo Voter
No, I don't think public opinion should determine public policy and it sure shouldn't have any place in scientific conclusions. The reason to bring up these numbers on how the public views SHS is to make the point that there really is no argument about it - most people consider SHS to be dangerous.
And actually, Wikipedia is generally considered to be a fairly reliable source, though because it is open to being edited by any "expert" it does need to be viewed with a bit of skepticism'.
That aside, you ask "why would the US Surgeon General make the findings they made?" Let's ask the Surgeon General. Below are conclusions from their 2006 press release when they issued the full report on SHS. If you want to read the full report or just the executive summary you can check it out here: Web Link

"The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought,� said Surgeon General Carmona, vice admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service. �The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.� Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals, and is itself a known human carcinogen. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke inhale many of the same toxins as smokers. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer, the report says."


Posted by Imperfect, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm

[Post removed; posters should focus on the issues and avoid personal attacks]


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm

The quote you cite is certainly in conflict with the statement they issued about the effects of second hand smoke. So, I have to wonder why the disconnect?

"The reason to bring up these numbers on how the public views SHS is to make the point that there really is no argument about it - most people consider SHS to be dangerous."

But that is my point, there IS an argument when public policy is made according to public opinion versus scientific evidence. there is scientific evidence to support the dangers of smoking. The evidence supporting second hand smoke is less than conclusive.

Public opinion once believed that black people were less than human yet we don't think that anymore and in part because the science didn't support it. There are people that think imunizations are dangerous, yet science doesn't support it, and smartly we don't let public opinion rule on this issue.

We should not be making public policy based on public opinion. It should be based on science.


Posted by fresh air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Apparently all those years of puffing away tend to affect the abilities of some smokers to understand very clear scientific statements. From the surgeon general's report:

* Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.

* Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.

* Secondhand smoke has been designated as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that secondhand smoke is an occupational carcinogen.

* Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.

* Secondhand smoke exposure can cause children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe attacks.

* Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

*Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 - 30 percent.

*Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 - 30 percent.

*The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Boy, that seems pretty clear to me, and it seems that the general public understands it too. NO RISK-FREE LEVEL OF EXPOSURE.

Sounds to me as though our council had plenty of scientific proof on which to base its decision. Sure, public opinion too, but public opinion based on solid scientific evidence.

Smokers, don't give up hope. No matter how long you've been addicted to cancer sticks, it isn't too late to get over your addiction. Do yourself a favor, and the rest of us too!


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Menlo Voter-
What in the world makes you think the Surgeon General's report is based on public opinion rather than science? If you'd looked at the link you would have seen that the report is over 600 pages in 10 chapters with each chapter containing multiple pages of references to the scientific studies it considers.
You've got it just backwards - the public is convinced of the dangers of SHS because the science is so conclusive, as is reflected in the Surgeon General's report.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Some of the smells of the food my neighbor cooks make me nauseaus. Can we ban cooking stinky food? It will be just about as enforcable as this law.


Posted by fresh air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm

If you can prove that cooking odors are hazardous to the health of the general public, go for it. But the fact that the aroma makes you nauseous <sic> is probably just a function of years of smoking having destroyed your sensory organs.


Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

As a non-smoker, I agree that 2nd hand smoke WITHIN CONFINED SPACES is hazardous to the health of others. What is the distance smoke travels in open air? At what distance is 2nd hand smoke dissipated? Does 2nd hand smoke from Palo Alto migrate across the creek into Menlo Park? The absurd new anti-smoking law is ridiculous. No, I don't think my health can be harmed by my neighbor's outdoor smoking or anyone smoking outside in a public or private parking lot. I have food allergies. May In come to council meetings for a couple of years & bug everyone so much that spineless council members pass a law prohibiting the cooking of certain food or uses of certain spices? I really hate paint fumes, too. Also, I am adversely affected by diesel exhaust fumes from vehicles.
The responsibility of adults is to address their own issues with their neighbors, landlords, & HOAs & not run to muni gov't to try to get even more unenforceable laws on the books.


Posted by Carol, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Has anyone defined "public space"? Is the Sharon Heights Safeway parking lot privately owned? I think so. Downtown lots with posted time limits are obviously public. What about the B of A parking lot? That's private property. Where is this weird & misguided "lawmaking" going? I don't like the smell of smoke either but I like unnecessary petty local "laws", to satisfy chronic complainers even less. Is Big Brother really here, in our town? How much money is MP willing to spend defending itself from litigation the first time someone sues for wrongful arrest? Maybe we should go to a parking area on private property, light up, & find out.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Fresh Air:

you know what they say about those that assume.......I'm not a smoker.


Posted by e. grimley, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:55 am

I like Tina's response...especially the part where she can go outside now and start up the barbque....hmmmm...no carcinogens there... No smoking, but continue to send people away from the restaurants and bars in Menlo under the influence of alcohol....I guess people can't die at the hands of a drunk driver anymore, right?Like so many others have stated, it is time for this council and all the others in this County to get real....take care of the real issues....and, here's a concept, do it yourselves....instead of outsourcing everything to the tune of hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars in consultant fees. If you are not qualified to handle the job, step down....take your funky ordinances...and move to DC [portion removed.]


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Most Seniors do not Need Senior Housing But Could Benefit from other Choice to Remain in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 52 comments | 2,239 views

Custom pizza joint on its way to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 1,991 views

I Spy
By Cheryl Bac | 6 comments | 1,127 views

Life, Death and Rails
By Paul Bendix | 3 comments | 858 views

Live! Menlo Park’s New Website
By Erin Glanville | 9 comments | 750 views