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It May Be the Safest City, but It Isn't the Cleanest

September 29, 2002

Re "Blowing Smoke," Sept. 22:

The Mission Viejo City Council is coming up with new regulations on cigarette smoking in public, and on its Web site boasts that, according to the FBI, it is the "safest city in America."

What is obscured is that this city contaminates the Aliso and San Juan creeks with pathogenic bacterial counts equivalent to those found inside a toilet bowl during use, according to Orange County Health Department testing. It has refused to implement new regulations on urban runoff and is spending hundreds of thousands from local coffers to litigate. Is this any way to run "the safest city in America?"

Roger von Butow

Clean Water Now! Coalition


The writer of the editorial, "Blowing Smoke," did a disservice to the subject by saying that the current move to restrict smoking in outdoor places "smacks ... of a supercilious moral judgment on smokers."

Those of us who would like to see legislation modified to protect nonsmokers are not individuals who have it in for smokers. Most of us have friends who smoke for whom we care deeply. But friendship is not enough to keep us from fighting for what we believe will ultimately be passed as law.

Twenty years ago, most of us scoffed at the idea of secondhand smoke being a risk to others. It was considered radical, unfounded by solid science. But the science came through in a mountain of evidence. It was simply a matter of time.

Political popularity is certainly not the issue here. The issue we are facing is the staggering increase of children with asthma, whose attacks are often triggered by environmental secondhand smoke, adults with lung disease ... and the well-being of every person who walks past a smoker and chokes a bit as they breathe the surrounding air.

What seems controversial today will be accepted as fact and accommodated in our daily lives in the near future. It seems unthinkable that we once thought the idea of smoking on an airplane was acceptable. We know better now.

Good science on environmental tobacco smoke is coming in. Soon we will commonly restrict where individuals who choose to smoke can indulge. Not because we have a disdain for smokers, but because some of us care enough to work for change that will help us all.

It is simply a matter of time.

Ellen Walcutt

Costa Mesa

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