Monday 11 November 2019

Hey buddy, have you got your eating licence?

Pearl Street Mall, a no smoking zone

Smoking was banned across Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado in 2013...

Where is the smoke-free zone?

The ordinance bans all smoking between 11th and 15th streets on the Pearl Street Mall, and on the lawn of the Boulder County Courthouse.

Are there designated smoking areas around the mall?

When considering a place to smoke, there are no specifically designated smoking areas. It's important to know that smoking is not allowed on the Pearl Street Mall, from 11th and 15th street, or on the Boulder County Courthouse property. The Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act and City of Boulder code also require people to be more than 15 feet away from entryways when smoking 

There was even a party to celebrate this progressive victory...

Kick-off Celebration Event

A celebration event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12, on the 1300 block of the Pearl Street Mall, where county, city and Downtown Boulder Inc. (DBI) staff will be available to answer questions about the smoking ban, hand out mints and information, and provide free resources available for smoking cessation programs.

Those who campaigned for the ban did so in the name of 'public health' and cited the claim that heart attacks fell by 41 per cent in Pueblo, Colorado after the town banned smoking indoors in 2003. That claim is a lie and, in any case, has no relevance to Pearl Street Mall which is an outdoor space.

Quite a large outdoor space, in fact. The ban extends from 11th to 15th and covers about ten streets.

As the risks from secondhand smoke outdoors are nonexistent, the real intention of the ordinance was probably to 'change norms', 'send a message' and make it more difficult for people to smoke. I doubt that those who lobbied for it expected there to be many arrests. Indeed, when the ban was introduced, Molly Winter of the city's 'Department of Community Vitality' (!) insisted that 'Boulder is not taking a hard line in terms of enforcement.'

But if you make petty offences out of victimless crimes, you can expect the boys in blue to take them seriously. The woman in the video below was arrested for not only smoking but having a dog off the leash and littering (dropping a cigarette butt, perhaps?). Faced with such a dangerous criminal, the police weren't going to take any chances, so they tied her to a chair, stuck a bag over her head, tasered her while she was defenceless and locked her in solitary.

As a chaser, watch this video from the even more progressive State of California where it is illegal to eat food on a train platform for some reason. The gentleman below, who is a more demographically typical victim of police harassment, committed his heinous crime at 8 o'clock in the morning while on his way to work.

“You’re eating.” 
“So what?” 
“It’s against the law.” 

Dame Sally would be proud.

If you create stupid, unnecessary laws to police every aspect of people's lives, don't be surprised when the police start throwing their weight around. Many of the replies to the two tweets above express sentiments along the lines of 'rules are rules, if they hadn't disrespected the law they would have been OK'. I find that almost as troubling as the incidents themselves.

Here's an idea. Maybe eating and smoking in the open air shouldn't be a crime? Instead of giving uniformed thugs endless excuses to victimise the public, how about we make laws that are worthy of respect?

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