Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons

Breathless, in a Bad Kind of Way

Tobacco Deathsticks Are Murder on Pulmonary Disease

The City of Santa Barbara passed its smoking ordinance, and for health’s sake, I am sincerely grateful. I was born with asthma that has developed into COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). In 2007, I attended the Solstice Parade and ended up in the emergency room because someone was puffing on his deathstick next to me and my friends. It cost me hundreds of dollars, and I have not been to a Solstice Parade since.

Since I work by Shoreline and rarely use a car, which I used to do before I wised up and started walking to get to either my next client or home, I soon found State Street barely tolerable. I only use State nowadays to bank or shop, and when I do, I must carefully watch at least a block ahead to ensure someone isn’t puffing on a deathstick, waiting to put me in the hospital. If someone does suddenly light up, as happened near the bank two days ago, I must hold my breath until I get past that person. That exertion leaves me practically breathless as I continue my duties and jobs.

As a taxpaying, hardworking, and longtime citizen of Santa Barbara, it is absolutely appalling to me that my right to breathe is somehow less important that other people’s disgusting, selfish habits. I say 90 percent of them are just lounging on State Street doing nothing!

I was discussing this ordinance with two cops on the beat downtown a couple days ago, when a woman began yelling at me, “Grow up! Grow up!” Needless to say, her voice was as leathery as her skin and her crinkled mouth, and, of course, she had a cigarette in hand. I will also note that on the many hot, windless, or fog-shrouded days, smoke just sits there, a toxic cloud that we all inhale if we are to breathe. Mentally I just cringe and want to yell “THANKS FOR NOTHING” at these odious people for letting me “share” their deathsticks.

Anacapa used to be my alternate route, but so many homeless people are there now that they frequently block that route. I bypass Chapala because the many smokers by the Salvation Army make it unbearable to “run the gauntlet.”

City Council, thank you for getting a hold on this. My husband, Keith, and I have contributed decades of our lives to serve and work in this city. Those, especially the transient visitors, who think their stinking, repellent addictions trump our right to breathe clean air are just gobsmacking to me. I should not have to “run a gauntlet” every time I am walking between jobs or want to have a burger at McDonald’s on State, which somehow seems to be the biggest attractor of these types in the downtown corridor.

Your vote for life, for good health, means passing a strict anti-smoking ordinance. You have avoided killing people like me in favor of those who don’t even live here.

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