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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chicago to Smokers: Our Beaches Aren’t Your Ashtrays Anymore

posted by on October 18 at 9:34 AM

My hometown makes news:

Smoking is now off limits at beaches, parks and playground in Chicago.

The park district board voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the ban. It takes effect immediately. The penalty for violating the ban is a $500 fine….

“I have a lot of sympathy for smokers, but not when second-hand smoke affects the health of other people,” Park District Superintendent Tim Mitchell said. Proponents also say cigarette butts and filters damage the environment. During a three hour cleanup of city beaches last month, they say they found some 35,000 butts in the sand.

Second hand smoke at beaches seems like a reach, but… uh… all the butts in the sand is kind of gross. But even this non-smoking fascist wonders where the anti-smoking bans stop. Cities are banning smoking in cars with children, on beaches, in bars and clubs, and there’s talk of banning smoke in apartments (it creeps under doors and down halls). But, you know, all those butts in the sand is gross.

And this is going to lead to some interesting 911 calls and a few shootings:

Enforcement relies on citizens to turn smokers in to police.

That sounds like a good plan.

And it’s amazing that this ban takes effect immediately while the state of Illinois’ long overdue ban on smoking bars and clubs doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2008.

RSS icon Comments


I can't imagine a Chicago without smoking in bars. That permanent haze every time you go in, just seems like a Chicago fixture. Last time I went to Chicago a few months ago, we were at Hopleaf, and everyone seemed to think that the law wasn't going to be enforced stringently.

It would nice to be able to go to a bar in Chicago without aggravating my asthma though.

Posted by arduous | October 18, 2007 9:40 AM

I other Chicago parks news, one park employee racked up an amazing 600 hours of overtime pay counting 35,000 cigarette butts.

Posted by Little Red ryan Hood | October 18, 2007 9:40 AM

I kinda hate smokers sometimes. People who wouldn't even consider tossing any other trash on the sidewalk think nothing about throwing cigarette butts out their car windows, on the street, or wherever else they happen to be smoking.

Posted by mason | October 18, 2007 9:46 AM

I am going to buy a pack of cigarettes and throw them all over Seattle. Then I am going to find Dan Savage and put one out in his eye. Then I am going to try to kill a few kids with second hand smoke. If they don't die immediately, since second hand smoke is x50 deadlier than smoking itself, then I will help them learn how to smoke, and reward them with a carton.

I will accomplish this feat of lunatic daring after I protest bigotry on Saturday.

Posted by Bad Day | October 18, 2007 9:51 AM

I kinda hate wishy-washy idiots sometimes. When I toss my butt into the street cause forced to smoke outside, but no ashtray is provided, people walk by and give me a dirty look, but refuse to say anything. Why don't they just call in a littering complaint to the state?

Posted by wbrproductions | October 18, 2007 9:54 AM

Yeah, I am a non-smoker with mixed feelings about this, too. We have a smoking ban in the pubs here in Victoria, BC, and it's great; the smokers seemed to have no problem adjusting. But now they've banned smoking on outdoor patios, so smokers either wander a few feet away, or simply move their chairs, while idling cars pump noxious fumes into the atmosphere five feet away. It's ridiculous.

But banning smoking in cars with children? I'm with that 100%.

Posted by Irena | October 18, 2007 9:59 AM

Agreed: I could understand the desire to keep butts out of the sand, but claiming secondhand smoke as a rationale? Come on. Any significant pollution issues around an urban beach are coming from industrial crap dumped into the air and water, and not the occasional guy lighting up in a relatively open space.

Posted by tsm | October 18, 2007 10:00 AM

@1 The law most likely will be enforced (cuz the city needs fines to pay for the olympic bid). However! There are some loop-holes -I believe the delay was to allow bars to purchase and install smoke eaters that were strong enough to keep the quality of air comparable to non-smoking places(you know, like in Las Vegas). Don't know how many places actually did this.

Posted by eloise | October 18, 2007 10:01 AM

The hypocrisy should stop now. Make cigarettes illegal. Stop taxing addiction.

Posted by whatever | October 18, 2007 10:02 AM

What would Al Capone have done if he had known what a Nanny State Chicago would become?

Posted by orangekrush | October 18, 2007 10:04 AM

Seriously, the "second hand" bullshit has got to stop- does anyone really believe the propaganda...? The only examples these people can give are employees in bars and restraunts that were bombarded with it for 8 hours straight, 5 days a week. (and I'd wager because of that, they were exposed to more smoke than most smokers. I support bar/restaurant bans on those grounds)

But banning smoking outdoors because of second hand..? Puh-Lease! The most you'd get is a brief wiff... you get more smoke inhalation from a campfire.

And I do agree that butts on the ground are gross- I make a habit of putting mine out and either throwing it away or putting the butt back in my pack until I can find a trashcan. Policing butts doesn't involve a smoking ban- just jack up the fine for littering.

Might help with the other trash as well.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | October 18, 2007 10:06 AM


You get more deadly carcinogens at a bus stop, too.

Ban the buses.

Ban cars.

Ban everything.

Ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban.

Please. Tell me how to live. Please.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 18, 2007 10:08 AM

I think the Park District has every right to ban smoking. There is a real cost to smoking on Park property (environmental impact, cost of clean-up, etc.). The second-hand smoke argument is a bit of a stretch in this case, though.

I cannot wait for Illinois smoking ban in bars restaurnats to take effect... Tonight I'm going out to celebrate a friend's birthday. She wants to go to a particularly smokey bar (even for Chicago). So, my choices are:

- Don't go and miss the birthday celebration
- Ask my friend to change the location, which I won't do since it's her birthday and that's where she wants to go
- Go, and have my asthma aggrevated and my clothes and hair reek of smoke (and my pillow the next day if I don't wash my hair before going to bed).

The ban can't come soon enough...

Posted by Julie | October 18, 2007 10:10 AM

So don't go to the birthday party, Julie, if you're going to be such a fucking pussy bitch about it.

Posted by Fuck you. | October 18, 2007 10:12 AM

@10, Al Capone would've found a way to make it pay, as he did during Prohibition! Nanny states encourage all kinds of gray- and black-market businesses.

Posted by tomasyalba | October 18, 2007 10:13 AM

I guess I should have said, @13, that there is a real cost to having cigarette butts all over the ground on the beach and in the parks... Not the physical act of smoking.

Posted by Julie | October 18, 2007 10:13 AM

taxing addiction is smart. there's no good reason not to tax people that are addicted to a harmful product, that is a known harmful product, and is a known powerfully addicted harmful product.

the idea that the addict is without culpability in the case of smoking is the idea that they just didn't know about the risks, which is a lie.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 10:14 AM

@14. Ah, yes, well-argued. With a few choice words, the whole smoking ban issue is resolved! I am such an idiot for supporting the ban. Also, for thinking that celebrating a friend's 30th birthday would be a good thing to do. I should just tell her to fuck off because I am a pussy. Yes, that's it.

Posted by Julie | October 18, 2007 10:20 AM

But even this non-smoking fascist wonders where the anti-smoking bans stop. Cities are banning smoking in cars with children, on beaches, in bars and clubs, and there’s talk of banning smoke in apartments (it creeps under doors and down halls).

Belmont, California is already ahead of the curve on banning smoking in apartments.

Posted by JMR | October 18, 2007 10:24 AM

The problem, Bellevue Ave, becomes apparent when the rational behind taxing addiction (i.e. as a way to deter smokers) actually works and lessens the number of addicts- suddenly those tax dollars go away.

The budget won't balance itself- tell me, what will they tax to compensate? Booze? Coffee? Junk Food?

And really, when you pray on someone's addiction for money, you're no better than the tobacco companies.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | October 18, 2007 10:27 AM

so you're saying that taxing addiction is wrong because achieves the goal that the tax set out to do? generate income and reduce addiction?

smoking taxes arent about generating income to use for discretionary spending. 15 billion dollars nationwide is created from cig taxes

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 10:36 AM

Most smokers, that I know anyway, started when they were teenagers. The younguns think they're invincible (the fuckers) and therefore don't give a crap about the risks until it's too late. While I don't support lawsuits against tobacco companies filed by people who started smoking after the risks came to light, I also think that many smokers aren't entirely culpable for their addiction.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 18, 2007 10:45 AM

this is totally out of hand........... I remember in the 80's with the cold war one good example used by the US admin of the lack of freedom in the east block was a smoking ban in public places enforced in the USSR................what happens now??? a ban like that (or even worse, a park!! ban smoking in a beach???? STUPID) is going on in chicago and similar things are happening all over the 'civilized' world. the states are becoming police states. how long are we letting this happen?
bertold brecht once said that when the police took the neighbour because he was jew, he did not care because he wasn't one, etc.... now they take me and it's too late.

fuck the police state. they cannot control every second of our lives.

btw. I am not a cigarrete smoker.

Posted by girl in spain | October 18, 2007 10:46 AM

Finally, Dan, you see what I've been saying all along. This has been the plan for a long, long time. It's just that if they had tried to do this, or ban smoking in apartents ten or twenty years ago, people would be up in arms. But if you do it gradually over time, no one complains.

It's not going to end until cigarettes are illegal. Then they'll find something new.

Posted by Dianna | October 18, 2007 10:51 AM

"It's not going to end until cigarettes are illegal. Then they'll find something new."


Posted by Mr. Poe | October 18, 2007 10:57 AM

Hey wbrproductions great point! You are a jackass.

How do you like me now?

Posted by mason | October 18, 2007 10:57 AM

Soon we will be like Singapore and ban chewing gum.

Posted by orangekrush | October 18, 2007 11:01 AM

oh and the whiny "I'm forced to smoke outside" excuse is pathetic.

Jesus man, you aren't forced to smoke anywhere. Carry a fucking altoids tin with you and toss your butts in there. Find a trash can. Quit smoking. Civilized adults learn to clean up after themselves.

I don't go tossing my freaking coffee cup on the street because I'm "forced" to drink it on the way to work.

Posted by mason | October 18, 2007 11:03 AM

If you want to TRULY deter smoking, you tax cigarettes to an absurd level- let's say $20 per pack. At that point, the biggest demographic for cigarettes (ie lower and middle class) are priced out, and smoking becomes a luxury item.

(And hell, anyone rich enough to smoke at that point helps out in tax dollars)

When you're taxing at a rate of a few cents a pack, you deter nothing; smokers (myself included) only see the small picture, not the absurd amount of money they'll lose because of it in the long run.

You're essentially piggybacking on the tobacco companies.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | October 18, 2007 11:04 AM

first identify who 'they' is, and then tell my how you arent using the slippery slope fallacy.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 11:04 AM

Second hand smoke at the notoriously windiest place in the Windy City? My ass.

And anyone who's been to North Ave. beach knows that there are waaaaay worse littering problems than cig butts. (Dirty diapers in the water? Eeeeech...ban the babies!!!)

#23 is right the slow but steady erosion of freedom for the sake of safety is on.

Posted by chi type | October 18, 2007 11:11 AM

economic data disagrees with you unpaid. cig taxes do deter people from smoking. google it.

smokers are essentially paying for the damage they cause to themselves when they pay cig taxes.

also your absurd notion that taxing them to the hilt straight away shows what a simple minded approach you have to the entire issue. you know what a black market is. a price shock comes with a lot of problems.

slowly boiling the frog that doesnt even know that it's being cooked is what cig taxes do. I refuse to feel pity for that frog.

full discloser: I date a smoker.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 11:17 AM

I don't deny that a black market would spring up around cigarettes- but the sole reason cigarette addictions persist is because cigs are readily available.

It's one thing to walk to the corner store for your fix, but do you really think the average person would go through the trouble of reaching the black market for cigarettes?

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | October 18, 2007 11:32 AM

you are so right, people definitely never go to the trouble of reaching the black market when the things they're addicted to aren't readily available at the corner store.

Posted by eloise | October 18, 2007 11:41 AM

"But even this non-smoking fascist wonders where the anti-smoking bans stop."

When all cigarettes are illegal everywhere. Duh.

Then the fun police / recreational accountants will come for the drinkers (think of all the broken families!) and the skydivers (no rational need for it!) and the sports cars (hurts the environment) and, dare I say it, the unmarried and/or nonmonogomous sex (think of the children/stds/etc)

And soon enough you'll be sitting in a beige aparments with no sharp corners, sucking on a mint flavored soy cube, wondering where it all went wrong.

Posted by Big Sven | October 18, 2007 11:42 AM

i wouldn't have such a big problem with these bans in parks/beaches/YOUR HOME if they would at least BE HONEST about it and not use the smokescreen [hey-O!] of 2nd hand smoke.

it's insulting to everyone's intelligence - not to mention exploitative of the scientific method - to use data from half-assed studies, or to pretend the effects of 2nd hand smoke in poorly ventilated places are applicable any and everywhere. science should inform policy, not the other way around.

Posted by brandon | October 18, 2007 11:42 AM

it doesnt take much effort to set up a competitive black market for cigs if the cost of simply smuggling them leads to a lower costs for the consumer. in fact a black market already exists, but it isnt as lucrative as other forms of drug smuggling. do you risk jail time and loss of collateral for smokes that have a smaller payoff, or do you go big and smuggle bricks of coke?

also the idea that addicted smokers wouldnt figure a legal way to circumvent the law (indian smoking trips. imagine buying a carton of cigs at a quarter of the price, then just distributing them to your close friends that gave you money) is kind of unimaginative. or hell, even setting up a gray market arbitrage system would work.

Also the feasibility of enacting tax measures that increase by 200-300% in one fell swoop is a bit laughable because of all the unintended consequences.

that is why an increasing tax on smoking that is done in bits and pieces is smart. some smokers may quit, some may never start. you keep adjusting the % increase of tax to the amount of smokers you expect to lose from an increase in taxes so that you can increase revenue while losing smokers, until you hit a limit. at that limit though, the tax revenue would more than be able to pay for the health hazard of smoking.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 11:54 AM

take for example the possibility that for every 5% raise on smoking taxes you would reduce the smoker base by 2.5%

assume that we start at .10 per pack. after an increase to .273 per pack over time we could cut the amount of smokers in half after 29 consecutive price increases.

the key is finding the ratio of tax increase to smoker decrease and then adjusting the % of increase just a hare about the natural amount of increase. it might be that for every tax increase of 50% you lose 1% of smokers who knows.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 12:08 PM

modern society simply cannot be trusted to be courteous. if there were conveniently placed trash receptacles in places where people congregate (beaches and sidewalks and otherwise) there WOULD BE LESS LITTER
(including cigarettes, your fucking latte cup, and those thousands of fucking bottled waters).
after the bomb scares in paris (mid '90s) the city sealed the garbage bins with cement. what did those wily parisians do? they made towers of garbage on top of the sealed containers. it was actually quite stunning.

Posted by pretentious | October 18, 2007 12:42 PM

So the U.S. Congress can't even pass climate change legislation that doesn't allow pollution exemptions for coal-burning power plants, and I'm supposed to believe that somebody smoking a cigarette on the beach near me is a huge health risk that demands legislative action?

It seems like the right to pollute only exists if you can figure out a way to turn a profit while doing it. Maybe innovative smokers should be allowed to participate in some sort of cap-and-trade system: Buy your non-smoking friends' emissions credits and redeem them for legal public smoking minutes. It's an innovative, market-based solution!

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 18, 2007 1:01 PM

Making cigarettes illegal is just adding another drug to the illegal market. It's just as stupid for tobacco as it is for weed. Taxing reduces the sales of tobacco, the trick is to find the sweet spot where you get the least amount of smoking combined with the least amount of criminal activity. It takes careful, slow increases to find that place. Making it illegal would just strain the criminal justice system and put otherwise productive people behind bars.

The problem on the public beaches is the littering more than the smoke really; though if someone asks a smoker to stop they should, just like if you ask someone to turn their music down they should. And it should be a polite request, not a demand. Littering should be dealt with by fines and adding trashcans, plus a few signs asking people to leave the beach neat--no tossed napkins, butts, condoms etc.

Posted by SpookyCat | October 18, 2007 1:15 PM

Hey, Unpaid Blogger,

"""but the sole reason cigarette addictions persist is because cigs are readily available."""""

Pure Bullshit.

The reason people smoke is because it relieves anxiety and depression. Plus it looks pretty cool.

An lets say you ban smoking in cars with children. Are you next going to ban harsh language, parents arguing, disposable diapers, High Fructose Corn Syrup? ETC...??? When is it OK to raise children the way the PARENTS want to raise them, right or wrong? I can criticize Dan Savage for being a shitty parent for yelling at his son and using fould language, but I would NEVER propose a law that prevents him from doing so, nor would I snitch on another citizen.

Fuck all you Seattle pussy's.

Oh, and if your biggest concern about going to some retarded 30 year old's borthday is smelling like smoke, then you better also avoid the attendent fried food and liquor. Both are very bad for you and make you smell worse.


Posted by ecce homo | October 18, 2007 1:37 PM

@11, second-hand smoke at a beach is a reach, yes, but that's where the propoganda ends. There's been lots of conclusive research in the past 1-2 years about the effects of second-hand smoke, and not just on bar employees.

Posted by Just So You Know | October 18, 2007 1:40 PM

Dude, I have asthma. And sometimes I've had to leave beaches because the people around me are smoking, and when I ask (politely) for them to smoke somewhere else because I'm having trouble BREATHING, I've gotten flipped off and treated like a huge witch. Tell me what is so offensive about “I'm really sorry, but I have asthma, and I don't think I can stay here if you keep smoking. Would you please put your cigarette out?”

People who pretend that this is some huge slippery slope are ignoring that we aren't banning chewing tobacco at these same locations. It's still nicotine! It's still tobacco! It's just not putting other people in danger.

But no, chewing tobacco isn't cool looking, so they'd rather make others miserable than risk looking like a redneck.

Sorry. I'm a libertarian, and I call bull-poopy on that. When your behaviors hurt just yourself, you are welcome to them. When your behaviors hurt ME, then I have the right to complain. When your behaviors effect the health and comfort of the people around you, then you are not a champion of freedom. You are a selfish jerk.

And if I had my way, hash brownies, cocaine, heroine, LSD, ecstasy, and every single illegal drug would be allowed.

Posted by Diane | October 18, 2007 1:54 PM

Wow, if the cost of cigarette litter is so high they need to ban smoking OUTSIDE, jesus we are in trouble! Cause gawd knows I bet if someone were to count actual pounds of trash (ewwwww trash! like OMG TRASHHHHHH) left on the beach or park, cigarettes would not account for much. Where are the bans on fast food? They cause much illness and LOTS of trash.

Also, the great thing about the outdoors is....If someone is smoking around you, pissing around you, fucking around you...guess what??? You can FUCKING walk away! And you are still outdoors. I know *shocking*. Just a friendly FYI for anyone who was confused. I know the 1-2 breaths of 2nd hand smoke WILL KILL YOU, but you know, try and get past the huge smoke cloud before you DIE.

I don't smoke anymore, but I somehow manage to *walk away* from smokers outside if it offends my sensibilities so damn much.

Posted by Original Monique | October 18, 2007 2:16 PM

Do you realize how large the beaches are in Chicago? You could easily set up your beach towel hundreds of yards from the nearest smoker... I simply don't buy that your asthma can be agravated by a cigarette a hundred yards away.

Posted by eloise | October 18, 2007 2:21 PM

people with asthma suck anyway.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 2:28 PM

#46 thank you. boo-f'n-hoo.

#44 - pack your shit up and move! your asthma is your problem. deal. and you call yourself a libertarian? please.

Posted by brandon | October 18, 2007 2:37 PM

The butts at the Chicago beaches are revolting. In three minutes of sifting through the sand in one spot my four year old had two dozen in a stack- yuck.

Cry baby smokers, a much more primal right being taken away is the right to go naked. I can't go naked to the beach and you complain about not being able to smoke there? There are no special lounges for me to get naked in during the day like there are for smokers. As soon as smokers stick up for my right to be naked where ever I want I might consider helping them. If people don't want to see my nakedness they can always look away, but everybody has to breathe.

Posted by mikeblanco | October 18, 2007 5:09 PM

It's true, I don't live in Chicago. On a beach that size, I doubt I'd have a problem. But on smaller beaches? *&! yeah, I have a problem!

I've had to miss outdoor concerts, because the person next to me was smoking in the DEAD CENTER of the crowd (diameter of ~100ft.) If they'd have moved to the edge of the crowd I wouldn't have a problem. I suggested that to them, but they called me a bitch. Ask anyone who knows me, I am very polite when I ask others to stop smoking.

And I call myself a libertarian because I believe that you should have the right to do whatever you durn well please, UNLESS IT'S EFFECTING THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF THOSE WHO DON'T CONSENT TO IT.

And when there is a completely reasonable alternative to smoking (chewing tobacco!), I fail to see how your rights are being infringed upon.

My husband doesn't have Asthma, but cigarette smoke is unpleasant for him to smell, and it does make him cough and his throat hurt, and his eyes irritated. This is the reaction of most non-smokers who don't spend much time around smokers. Ask a respitory specialist!

They shouldn't have to put up with it.

My asthma was more of a demonstration of how rude most smokers are. If someone came up to me and said that they were allergic to my perfume, I'd definitely take a trip to the ladies room and wash it off. If I flipped them off, I'd be rude, and possibly cruel.

If a society gets together and decides that my perfume is irritating to enough people, and infringes on their *physical* quality of life, then they can ban my perfume.

Now if the complaints were simply that it smelled bad, as opposed to gave them a distinct, negative health reaction, then they shouldn't be allowed to do it.

I see this as a less extreme version of saying that sex between the consenting is alright, but rape is wrong. Or even allowing neighborhoods to get together and say "Ya know, That giant flame-thrower is shooting outside of his yard. It's posing a direct risk on those who want to use the sidewalk. He isn't responding politely, so we should make him take it down."

If the flame-thrower were just hurting those who were trespassing, then it wouldn't be a problem. But because it poses a direct risk to the health of those who aren't on his property, it should be banned. It's very different from a neighborhood association barring a man from painting his door purple.

Being a libertarian boils down to "If you aren't hurting anyone, you have the right to be left alone."

Smokers are hurting people. They don't get that right.

Posted by Diane | October 20, 2007 5:00 AM

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