April 01, 2011

I love tobacco. I have been a pipe and cigar smoker since my 16th birthday. (My father had offered to buy me both if I abstained from cigarettes until that date). On that memorable occasion, he took me down to Santa Monica’s storied Tinder Box. Dad showed me how to roll the cigar when lighting, how to tamp the tobacco into the pipe bowl, and many allied arcane skills. I have little love for cigarettes, though I do smoke them when others light up as a show of solidarity.

Thanks be to God, the Tinder Box remains, as do little islands of sanity here and there. Close to my house are a couple of “€œsmokeasies“€”€”bars where one can actually light up and drink as though one were 21 years old! As alcohol lovers all over Europe and America know, such places are becoming scarce.

But we haven”€™t seen the worst, my brethren, not by a long shot. The City of Los Angeles recently issued a diktat that the outside patios which restaurants had created for smokers could no longer be used for that purpose. Hapless tobacco lovers are to choose between hunger pangs or nicotine withdrawal; otherwise, they are driven into the outer darkness by the law’s minions. This measure was in solemn imitation of the City of Pasadena‘s similar effort, which also bans smokers from building entrances”€”meaning entirely off city streets.

“€œI can accept that our system is half-libertarian and half-socialist: We are taxed as though we were the latter and served as though we were the former.”€

But this is not enough, good friends, no indeedy! Pasadena’s city fathers, no doubt excited by their larger and more important neighbor’s imitation of them, are considering a new idea: no smoking in one’s own apartment or condo for fear that the evil secondhand smoke shall travel through to other rooms!

Oh, how truly, truly marvelous! How blessed we of the sunny Southland are with such Solons, bending their every effort to making us better and happier! My readers are undoubtedly frothing with envy”€”more so when they hear that other SoCal towns of which they have never heard, such as Calabasas“€”have outlawed smoking outdoors! Is it not all truly wonderful?

The fly in the ointment of these uninterrupted successes seems to elude our lawgivers. On one hand, they are whining continuously about lack of funds and bankruptcy’s looming specter. On the other hand, they happily forget that every regulation, whether it be to repress Demon Nicotine or to attack the type of balloons used at children’s parties, costs money to enforce. And enforcement NEVER seems to pay for itself.


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