Sending the Message

Mike Steindel (
Sun, 21 Feb 1999 15:41:44 -0800 (PST)

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What message if any other than WE Pass Laws To Rip You Off" are they
sending. I hear this same crap over and over "We have to send the right
message. What will the children think. The only message that
Legislators, Law Enforcement and the Judiciary are sending is that they
want our money. If they were seriously trying to help us Cash and
Freedom would not have to be Forfeit. Medical care would be provided at
a hospital with Doctors instead of fine's and Jail time with Prison
Gaurds...How stupid do they think we are. 
You know it is time we all get the message and send them "the
politicians that is" the message that we no longer want to be told what
to do. We no longer want them telling us how to live. We no longer want
them protecting us from ourselves. If I want to smoke a cigar,
cigarette, pipe or a bong stuffed with weed thats my choice not some fat
cat politician who owes his soul to corporate america. 

The question I ask is "whats next"....
Here's the message I want to send to them...."BUTT OUT"....mike

here is what I read that got me on this rant. It just angers me that we
now have vice cops looking for people smoking cigarette's to hand out
$273.00 fines....this comes by way of Bob Owen at

Sunday, February 21, 1999 
Smoking Ban at San Diego Bars Has Patrons Fuming Laws: Vice cops are met
with abuse while writing citations. City is known 
for toughest enforcement in state.
By TONY PERRY, Times Staff Writer 
SAN DIEGO--The pimps, the hookers, the johns, the gamblers, the
ticket-scalpers are all pretty mellow compared to a new category of
criminal here: the barroom smoker. 
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Just ask the San Diego Police Department's vice
squad. No other group of lawbreakers gives them as much guff as smokers
who are busted by undercover cops and slapped with a ticket that can
cost as much as $273. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 "Smokers can get mean," said Det. Kelly Johnson.
=A0 =A0 Despite the unconcealed indignation of smokers, the vice squad
remains steadfast, giving San Diego the most aggressive enforcement of
the year-old law banning barroom smoking in any big city in California. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "San Diego is doing an excellent job," said
Diane Kaiser, director of the California Smoke-free Bar Program, an
offshoot of the American Lung Assn. "We wish other cities would use the
San Diego model, and we plan to bring it to their attention." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 A few suburban and medium-sized cities--notably
Sacramento--have run education campaigns and followed up with citations
for scofflaws. But in many cities the law has been virtually ignored or
paid only lip service. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 In Los Angeles, the Police Department passed the
buck to the Fire Department, which only now is getting its complaint
hotline and enforcement strategy in place. In San Francisco, uniformed
police and health inspectors began enforcement two weeks ago after media
coverage portrayed the law as a local joke. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 But in San Diego, where community-oriented
policing is considered a religion, the vice squad has been prowling bars
for months in response to complaints by patrons and employees that
voluntary compliance is not working. The use of undercover rather than
uniformed officers is also distinctly San Diegan. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "The reality has got to settle in among the
public," said vice Det. James Jarrett. "The law is here to stay and so
are we. As long as there is a law, we'll enforce it." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 For 1998, 134 citations were written for bar
smoking, a small number, perhaps, for a city of 1.2 million people, but
large enough, police hope, to send a message. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "What we want to do is create paranoia," said
Sgt. Sam Campbell. "We want smokers to be paranoid about being cited for
breaking the law. If paranoia gets compliance, I can live with it." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 On any given night, a barroom smoker in San
Diego may light up and then be startled when that friendly fellow or gal
at the next bar stool discreetly flashes a badge and politely, quietly,
invites the smoker outside, where he or she receives a citation. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Some argue. Some become instant civil
libertarians. Some become insulting. Many vow to carry the fight to the
U.S. Supreme Court. Their bar stool comrades act as ad hoc counsel. In
one bar, patrons passed the hat to gather a defense fund. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 A brawny fellow cited at Cheers, a festive bar
in a blue-collar neighborhood, provided a lengthy analysis linking the
outrage being visited upon him to what he felt was the misuse of tax
money in the presidential impeachment trial. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "This is ridiculous," said Scott Mastrocinque,
32. "I will never spend any money in this bar again. Government has gone
crazy, from Washington to San Diego." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 At TubaMan's, San Diego's decidedly funky
"original sports bar," angry analogies were made to World War II

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "This is asinine, sickening, ridiculous, an
infraction of my civil liberties," said a cited smoker, a schoolteacher.
"It's all over for freedom. Il Duce is back in power." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 One fellow--although not smoking
himself--stomped out angrily. He stopped long enough on his march to
another bar to throw a four-letter epithet over his shoulder at the four
vice squad officers outside, adding: "Smoke Nazis, uber alles." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Later, the same fellow settled in eight blocks
away at Scolari's Office, where he allegedly warned patrons there was a
plainclothes cop in the house. A vice sergeant wrote him a citation:
Blowing the cover of an undercover cop is a misdemeanor. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "I'm outraged," said Richard Strassman, 44, who
vowed to fight the misdemeanor case vigorously. "You can't smoke in a
bar, you can't talk to your friends. Is this still America? Not in San

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 Umbrage is not gender-specific. 
Three "soccer moms" were sitting at a shopping center bar called the
Navajo Inn when vice squad members began pulling smoking patrons aside
soon after arriving from Scolari's. The three women, none smoking but
all enjoying a martini after their badminton class, abruptly interrupted
their discussion of kids and school and grades. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 One of the three whirled around and told a cop,
"You should get a job with some dignity! You should be out doing some
real police work." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 The vice cops have heard it all, and mostly it
just rolls off their backs. But on this occasion, Det. Jana Beard,
having finished writing citations, decided to engage in a bit of
low-key, woman-to-woman, community-policing-style dialogue. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "We have 2,000 cops in this city ready to
respond to your 911 call when you need us," she said. "But if we enforce
a law you don't like, you begin insulting us and saying hurtful things.

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 The failure to communicate was near total. =A0
=A0 "You should do something with dignity, not this," said the woman. "I 
pay your salary, you know." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 It's not a new line. But no one has thrown a
punch yet, although there is a tendency among both the smokers and their
nonsmoking pals to engage the cops in spittle-flying debates. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "Smoking enforcement is not popular with the
detectives," Jarrett said. "We get into more confrontations than with
anything else we do." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Because of the possibility that a smoking bust
could get out of hand, the vice cops always work in teams. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 The base fine is $100 for a first offense, $200
for a second offense, and $500 for a third offense. Once court costs are
thrown in, at the judge's discretion, a first offense can climb to $273. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Debra Kelley, an official with the San Diego
chapter of the American Lung Assn., believes she knows why smokers are
so defiant. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "There's been a really orchestrated effort to
bring out the belligerence and anger among smokers by the tobacco
industry and groups it funds, like the National Smokers Alliance," said
Kelley. "Their hope is to defeat the law any way they can." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 But Tom Humber, president of the Arlington,
Va.-based National Smokers Alliance, says Kelley is overestimating his
group's power and underestimating the political rebellion triggered by
the California law, the only state law of its kind in the nation. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "People are tired of government telling them how
to live their lives," Humber said. "Am I pleased people are giving out
back talk when they are busted? You're [damn] right I am." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 While not overjoyed at the San Diego vice squad,
the local Food & Beverage Assn., a trade group for bars and restaurants,
has opted not to protest--preferring to work for an amendment to the law
to permit smoking if bars install special ventilation systems. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 San Diego bar owners claim that the vice squad
is costing them business because smokers are staying away--although that
claim is yet to be borne out by figures on gross receipts. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Out-of-state tourists may be surprised that
smoking is forbidden at California bars but there is no indication that
the San Diego enforcement strategy is scaring them away. On the other
hand, employees where bar owners have cracked down on smoking have
offered testimonials about the delight of a smoke-free workplace. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Paul Crawford, owner of an English-flavored bar
called Shakespeare Pub, jokes that the only people smoking at his bar
are English tourists who think the No Smoking signs are some sort of
American joke. He sets them straight. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 In May, Police Chief Jerry Sanders, responding
to encouragement from the City Council, had a memo read to all officers
at roll call announcing that the vice squad would be enforcing the ban
and that uniformed officers could take complaints or, if they spotted a
bar smoker during their regular rounds, write a citation. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Sanders' memo to his troops had a tone of
let's-be-careful-out-there: "Persons in favor of and against the ban
feel strongly about the prohibition." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 To be sure, the smoking law is not a high
priority among the vice squad in terms of time or manpower. But when
there is time, and when the complaint referrals from the health
department reach critical mass, the vice squad takes action. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 Bad News Travels Fast 
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0
 When the squad is on smoking patrol, however, there is a law of
diminishing return. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 After a few bars are hit, word appears to spread
quickly to nearby establishments: "Yipes, the cops are loose!" Police
suspect that a "phone tree" early warning system exists among

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 It is not uncommon for vice squad officers to
enter a bar and find it so smoky it looks like a foggy morning in San
Francisco--yet not a single person is smoking. At that point, the vice
squad knows it's time to quit for the night or switch to a neighborhood
on the other side of town. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 San Diego County remains a target-rich
environment for smoking citations. The Department of Health and Human
Services received 1,561 complaints about bar smoking last year, alleging
smoking scofflawism at three-quarters of the county's 469 stand-alone

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 About half the complaints are within the city
limits. The others are in smaller cities or the unincorporated areas
where enforcement is up to suburban police and the Sheriff's Department.
The latter began its enforcement effort with uniformed police this

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "We've had a grace period for a long time. Now
it's time for enforcement," said Sheriff's Lt. Ron VanRaaphorst. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 When the health department receives a complaint,
the bar owner is sent a letter asking for compliance. Health inspectors
then make an unannounced visit. If they don't see any smoking, the case
is closed. If they see smoking, they refer the case to police. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Some bars play it straight. At Your Place, vice
officers found smokeless air, "No Smoking" signs posted all around, and
even a framed copy of a warning letter from the health department. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Other places send mixed messages. "No Smoking"
signs are plastered on the walls, but ashtrays are on the tables and
cigarettes are for sale. Sometimes swastikas have been stamped over the
"No Smoking" signs. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 At Cheers, a sign warning of the maximum $273
fine is posted at the door, but inside is a fight-back sign from the
National Smokers Alliance: "My Customers Are My Business. Repeal the
Smoking Law." Cigarettes are for sale behind the bar. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 Not all busted smokers see red. There are also
expressions of contrition and tales of woe. 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 "I'm 67 and I can't stop smoking," said one man
as he accepted his citation outside Cheers. "These guys are only doing
their job." 

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 =A0 =A0 But Tom McIsaac, 62, who was cited in October at
Scolari's Office and is paying a $250 fine on the installment plan, has
a different take: "This is taxation without representation. That's why
we got rid of King George, isn't it?" 
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