Jacob Sullum writes over at Reason about Calabasas, California. Calabasas has taken the inevitable next step in the anti-smoking jihad. Smoking is prohibited everywhere in the city, except for (1) inside private residential property, (2) in 20% of hotel rooms, as long as the rooms are on separate wings or floors [can’t have dirty riff-raff mingling with the Good People], (3) in “smokers outposts” of shopping malls, as long as the outposts are as far away as possible, are no more than 1/20,000 of the size of the mall property, and no airborne smoke comes anywhere near the mall proper, and (4) in outdoor areas “in which no non-smoker is Present and, due to the time of day or other factors, it is not reasonable to expect another person to arrive.”
Tellingly, a provision that would have permitted outdoor smoking in the presence of nonsmokers with their consent was removed from the final version of the Calabasas ban. So if you’re in some deserted part of the city in the middle of the night with a friend who smokes, he is allowed to light up only if you do too.
If he lights up and you don’t like it, you can file a complaint with the city, which can charge your friend with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months. You also can sue him, seeking compensation for injuries inflicted by his tobacco smoke or statutory damages of $250 for each violation, plus attorneys’ fees and court costs.
If you can show your friend was guilty of “oppression, fraud, malice, or conscious disregard for the public health and safety,” you can recover punitive damages too. By that point, of course, he might not be your friend anymore.
Don’t let the whereas-es in the ordinance fool you. This is not about controlling secondhand smoke. It’s about banning smoking. Don’t light up in your yard if there is any chance whatsoever that a second person will arrive. You presumably can’t smoke in your car at all.
I’m no fan of smoking, either, but this is ridiculous. Jail time for smokers? That which is not permitted is forbidden? Fat people are probably next.