Friday, October 9 , 2015, 9:53 am | Fair 76º

Craig Allen: It’s Time for Santa Barbara to Ban Smoking

It's disgraceful to breathe secondhand smoke damage in the birthplace of the environmental movement

By Craig Allen, Noozhawk Business Columnist | @MPAMCraig |

The time for a smoking ban inside Santa Barbara city limits is now!

I know I’m going to receive a lot of pushback from smokers, and I welcome it! The reality is that, although I am a strong supporter of personal freedoms, I do not support one person’s right to exercise their freedom at the expense of others. This is exactly the situation with smoking in public. Whether the smoker is standing on a street corner, at an outdoor café or driving in their car, they are forcing others to breathe smoke. This is simply wrong and unacceptable.

It is estimated that 73,000 people die in the United States each year from secondhand smoke. Everyone knows that smoking kills people, so there is no point in discussing or debating this issue. If it were possible for a person to smoke without affecting anyone else, I am all for their right to do so. The reality is that it is next to impossible for anyone to smoke without it affecting others.

I am a member of Spectrum Fitness and work out several times each week at the downtown location. Each time I leave the gym, I walk to the parking lot and pass behind the Canary Hotel. Without fail, there are hotel employees sitting back there smoking, and I must walk through a cloud of their smoke to get to my car. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Why is it acceptable in society, and more to the point here in Santa Barbara, the birthplace of the environmental movement, for me or anyone else to be forced to breathe smoke? In fact, almost without exception, any time I am walking downtown or driving my car I am forced to breathe smoke. A change in local smoking ordinances is long overdue.

In 1975, Minnesota enacted the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, making it the first state to restrict smoking in most public spaces. (In 2007, Minnesota enacted a ban on smoking in all restaurants and bars statewide.) Aspen, Colo., became the first U.S. city to restrict smoking in restaurants, in 1985. In 1987, Beverly Hills initiated an ordinance to restrict smoking in most restaurants, in retail stores and at public meetings. In 1990, San Luis Obispo became the first city in the world to restrict indoor smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants.

California’s 1994 statewide ban on smoking was expanded in 1998 to include a restriction on smoking in bars. The California smoking ban encouraged other states, such as New York, to implement similar regulations. There are currently at least 37 states with some form of smoking ban. Some areas in California began banning smoking across entire cities, including every place except residential homes. More than 20 cities in California have enacted park and beach smoking restrictions.

A 2007 Gallup poll found that 54 percent of Americans favored completely smoke-free restaurants, 34 percent favored completely smoke-free hotel rooms and 29 percent favored completely smoke-free bars. Several studies have documented health and economic benefits related to smoking bans. In the first 18 months after Pueblo, Colo., enacted a smoking ban in 2003, hospital admissions for heart attacks dropped by 27 percent while admissions in neighboring communities without bans showed no change. The decline in heart attacks was attributed to the ban, which reduced exposure to secondhand smoke. A similar study in Helena, Mont., found a 40 percent reduction in heart attacks following the imposition of a smoking ban.

Many studies have been published in health industry literature on the economic effect of smoking bans. The majority of these government and academic studies have found there is no negative economic impact associated with smoking restrictions and many findings indicate there may be a positive effect on local businesses. A 2003 review of 97 such studies of the economic effects of a smoking ban on the hospitality industry found that the “best-designed” studies concluded that smoking bans did not harm businesses. A 2006 review by the U.S. Surgeon General found that smoking restrictions were unlikely to harm businesses in practice, and that many restaurants and bars might see increased business.

In 2003, New York City amended its smoke-free law to include all restaurants and bars. The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found in a 2004 study that air pollution levels had decreased sixfold in bars and restaurants after the restrictions went into effect, and that New Yorkers had reported less secondhand smoke in the workplace. The study also found the city’s restaurants and bars prospered despite the smoke-free law, with increases in jobs, liquor licenses and business tax payments.

Santa Barbara is widely known as an environmentally focused city. We depend on tourism for our local economy, which is second only to education as our primary economic driver. I believe strongly that an overwhelming majority of visitors would prefer a smoke-free Santa Barbara, and that a citywide ban on smoking would promote improved tourism and therefore improved economic activity and tax revenues.

Santa Barbara has long been known as the birthplace of the environmental movement in the United States. It is time we place the same focus on our local air quality and the health of our citizens and visitors that we have placed on other environmental issues. Frankly, it is an embarrassment that we are so far behind on something as basic as banning smoking, which has more than sufficient scientific proof supporting the damage of secondhand smoke to our health.

I call on the City Council to make this a priority — to protect the health of those who choose not to smoke, and to make Santa Barbara a more appealing place for visitors to come, enjoy our city and spend their money.

Craig Allen, CFA, CFP, CIMA, is president of Montecito Private Asset Management LLC and founder of Dump Your Debt. He has been managing assets for foundations, corporations and high-net worth individuals for more than 20 years and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA charter holder), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) certification. He blogs at Finance With Craig Allen and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.898.1400. Click here for previous Craig Allen columns. Follow Craig on Twitter: @MPAMCraig.

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» on 09.02.12 @ 06:46 PM

Why stop at smoking?  Carbon monoxide kills too, there should be no more cars in santa barbara. Every time I walk anywhere, I have to breath dangerous carbon monoxide fumes from people’s cars.

Hopefully you get my point, it would be absolutely stupid to ban either one.

» on 09.03.12 @ 12:04 AM

Ya know, when one wraps themself in the flag of self righteous indignation, they are opening themself up for some pretty big hits; yourself included.

Incrementalism isn’t a new concept for politicos or their sycophants. Each time someone passes a new law that on its face seems legit, it opens up a new path for the next yay-hoo to pass another one that may be yet another degree more intrusive… or abstract, or FREAKY.

As ultra lib So-Cal legislates itself into financial oblivion with its anti- everything laws, we sit in amazement at why we have to pay more “investments” into our sinking economy. Creative buzz-words disguise taxes as a way out of our imminent financial death.

Gavin Newsom deplored the use of plastic bags in SFO, and banned their use, but continued the governmant spending of dispensing PLASTIC syringes to heroin addicts that end up on the playgrounds of SFO as a bio hazard danger to little kids. Where’s the sense? It’s just symbolism over substance; typical of a California politico (either party on that BTW).

Santa Barbara Airport received a complaint that was followed up on by an investigation that someone had the audacity to use a leaf blower on airport property- a clear violation of the Ashley “Brilliant” ordinance against using a gas powered device within city property. All the while, nearby Embraer Regional Jets were taking off using jet engines with 13,000 lbs of thrust and God knows how many dB’s. Where’s the sense in that?

I say we should all be fine with long lives ahead of us with designated smoking areas.

Tell us you just had a wild hair and decided to stir the local pot. I can get that. Speaking of which, will there be an exemption for those who are medically healing by smoking herb in public? Just sayin….

» on 09.03.12 @ 12:27 AM

They should also ban those foul smelling colognes.

» on 09.03.12 @ 01:55 AM

What does a city-wide ban mean? People will be prohibited from smoking in their own homes? I am not sure what Craig is actually suggesting.

» on 09.03.12 @ 12:14 PM

That’s really funny. We have council members who are in favor of plastic bags. You think they are aware enough of the dangers of smoking?

» on 09.03.12 @ 12:54 PM

How about banning smelly unwashed people?  The smell of garbage from the mouth of the creek?  The stink of corruption from governmetn offices?

» on 09.03.12 @ 01:08 PM

We all have habits that others do not appreciate. Being part of community, we all have to have to learn to not expect perfection from others, be kind and understanding that it is not all about “ME”. 

Smokers should be better community citizens, try smoking in areas that are not well traveled and do not litter their cigarette butts.  Non-smokers learn to hold your breathe for the 3 seconds, 3 seconds is not long time if you are walking past someone smoking in an out of the way place. 

Craig, may I suggest that you park somewhere else as you go to the gym if you can not hold your breathe for 3 seconds, maybe a block away, a good cool down after your work-out.

» on 09.03.12 @ 01:55 PM

Craig, I have to agree with you. I don’t know where those smokers, “In California, which has one of the lowest rates in the country, it’s…roughly one in eight (12.5%), get the “balls” to act like they are the majority.<>

It is ridiculous for them (these SB NoowsHawk readers) to have any say at all when, in fact, “Marin County, one of the richest regions in the state, has the lowest rate – just over 7 percent.” <>

BTW, for those of you reading this particular comment, that’s 7 out of 100 residents of Marin!

In politics, 7% of a population doesn’t even count!

So what’s all the fuss about if only a tiny minority of foolish people want to make me sick? It turns out that these “pins-in-a-haystack” make all the noise. When you read the comments, you are swayed into thinking that it is their right to blow smoke at you.

Well - it isn’t!

The council shouldn’t be afraid to enact tougher smoking laws and kick the smokers - dare I say it - out.

Craig, thanks for saying something that the rest of us (93%) support.

» on 09.03.12 @ 03:29 PM

Craig: You make some strong points related to the health effect for smokers as well as non-smokers. But like the leaf-blower laws, even if such a total smoking ban were implemented, enforcement is the key.

Currently, my big beef is the smokers who dispose of their vile butts by flicking them into the gutter, on sidewalks, or worse yet, out the window of a car into vegetation. I just reposted my 2008 diatribe at

» on 09.03.12 @ 03:31 PM

What an absurd article… Do people actually trust this guy with their money?

Craig,  Try running on the beach or outside… you’re losing it.

» on 09.03.12 @ 03:50 PM

I’ve lived in SB when Goleta and Sb were separated by Fruit Trees. I was here when homes were still under 100,000 and when the same homes sold for a couple million easy. Santa Barbara lost its sense of real community as the price of homes rose.

At the same time those with the money to throw around, (push around) did so until those of us who maintained and or beautified those homes could no longer afford to live there. The fewer the normal but lower paid families the less they could pushback against those pushing their wages and other rights lower and lower. I see this issue as just more of the same. The Gov. has no business in my body or my home period. Yet, today we all know that every phone call, email and text we make is recorded somewhere. The Gov. really does have high resolution cameras on satellites that can see thru some roofs and/or count your freckles in your backyard. Where does it stop and when ?

» on 09.03.12 @ 04:52 PM

“The reality is that, although I am a strong supporter of personal freedoms, I do not support one person’s right to exercise their freedom at the expense of others.”  Yep, well said Craig and as you are a member of that audacious sector of the economy, finance, most responsible for making money at the expense of others, how charming.

» on 09.03.12 @ 07:00 PM

My response to this is that while I agree with the sentiment, I don’t know of an example of prohibition that has worked in this country. Why should anyone expect this to?

» on 09.03.12 @ 09:38 PM

Try to enforce it. I quit smoking several months ago for personal reasons. I would happily light up if I saw you walking in my direction.

» on 09.04.12 @ 05:25 PM

The same politicaly motivated misuse of data that members of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA) used during their lobbying against marijuana dispensaries in violation of federal law as a public non-profit. During years that cannabis use increased among teenagers, it increased less in states that had medical cannabis programs.
The rate of heart attacks decreased MORE in Pueblo County and in El Paso County than in the City of Pueblo during the years in question. The ending rate of heart attacks in the city of Pueblo was HIGHER than either of these places that had no ban.
We SHOULD ban the misuse of statistics, make it at least a misdemeanor, and probably require training toward a STATISTICS USER LICENSE. (kidding - way tooo many laws!

» on 09.04.12 @ 05:27 PM

Sorry - forgot this:

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