Prohibited from smoking and drinking in fun, public places

by Staff

You’re lying on your beach towel. The hot summer sun bronzes your skin; the soft, white sand cushions your feet; the sound of waves beating down is soothing music. The only possible way to feel more comfortable is to enjoy the taste of a cold beer or the mellow flavor of a cigarette while you do nothing but relax.

But then reality hits: You’re at La Jolla Shores beach, which prohibits alcohol and cigarettes at all times.

This may sound extraordinary to non-smokers, to parents who worry about their children stepping on glass bottles or to lifeguards who don’t want to see drunk people swimming, but to many other people, these laws are limiting freedom and personal happiness.

The no-smoking ordinance in San Diego took effect on Aug. 17, 2006, banning smoking on public beaches, in parks and other open areas. People 21 years old and over may drink at only some San Diego beaches from noon to 8 p.m. Glass containers are prohibited from every beach and park in San Diego and drinking is prohibited in parking lots adjacent to beaches and in most beach parks as well. The fine for a first offense against these infractions in San Diego can be an excessive $250 and second offenses may cost up to $500, according to the San Diego Court’s legal department.

Can you imagine paying $250 because you were smoking a cigarette or drinking a beer at 8:30 p.m. on the beach?

While some students and tourists aren’t even aware of these restrictions, these laws are strict for those who would like the right to drink or smoke while enjoying a day at the beach or park, and some San Diego officials are pushing for more severe laws against alcohol consumption.

For years there has been talk about prohibiting alcohol on San Diego beaches altogether. In August of last year, the Pacific Beach Town Council asked the San Diego City Council to consider a ban on alcohol at all city beaches and Mission Bay Park, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. These types of restrictions are still being discussed. So unfortunately, anything is possible in the future.

It’s upsetting that these laws have been designed to go against the public use of popular substances. Sixty-four percent of Americans ages 18 and older say they drink alcoholic beverages, and about 24 percent of Americans say they are cigarette smokers, according to recent Gallup Polls. That calculates to one out of four Americans who smoke and two out of three American adults who drink.

With San Diego being the home of three huge universities, what type of college and vacation city is this if students and tourists can’t even drink and fully enjoy themselves at some of the beaches?

In Las Vegas, people can smoke in casinos and some clubs, while San Diego emplaces restrictions that are usually only popular with extremists.

One of the only major problems that arises from cigarettes being smoked and alcohol being consumed in open places is littering, but if there are ashtrays and garbage bins available, people will use them.

There are dog beaches and nude beaches, so why not smokers’ beaches?

People can drink at some beaches at specific times, so why not all beaches?

San Diego city officials must realize that just as many people want to smoke and drink on beaches as people who want the prohibition laws. But the city should cater to the public who use beaches and parks most regularly – the students and tourists.

-Amanda Strouse is a journalism senior.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to Anonymous letters will not be printed – include your full name, major and year in school.

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