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A dirty habit

Original post made by Kathy, Community Center, on Apr 23, 2007

The path to Palo Alto Medical Foundation is paved with cigarette butts – in more ways than one! When my family decided to pick up trash on Earth Day, we headed to the bike path that runs along the train tracks between the Homer tunnel and Embarcadero. The stretch where we tidied things up was only about four blocks long, but thousands of cigarette butts awaited our gloved hands. Along the backside of PAMF the density of “ciggyboos” (as my five-year-old daughter called them) increased dramatically. The irony was not lost on us: the more you smoke, the more you need a doctor!

Comments (11)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2007 at 11:16 am

Allow a properly ventilated smoking room in public buildings instead of sending smokers outside would aleviate most of the problem. When smokers were in the majority they did not begrudge none smokers a refuge.

Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Invest money in public buildings to accomodate drug addicts? What an odd idea, Walt.

Posted by Bella G.
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 23, 2007 at 5:51 pm

I bike behind Paly High and see a regular group of students smoking on the bike path each morning. So sad...

Maybe PAMF staff can provide free smoking cessation classes there. According to their web site (Web Link One in three adolescents/young adults who are "just experimenting" end up being addicted by the time they are 20 years old.

Posted by Peter
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 23, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Perhaps Mr. Wallis' memory is a bit selective (first comment). In the days when "everyone" smoked, I don't remember any smoke-free zones, restaurants, bars, offices, or most public or private spaces...oh, yes, it was frowned on in most houses of worship, operating rooms, public libraries, and museums -- also classrooms.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2007 at 8:07 am

Restaurants had non-smoking sections, trains had non-smoking cars, later reduced to a smokers car when most cars became non-smoking, airplanes had non-smoking sections and depots had non-smoking waiting rooms. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2007 at 9:49 am

again, Walt, why would you advocate spending resources-- especially tax dollars-- to accomodate drug addicts?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2007 at 6:59 pm

The original article commented on the mess outside. my suggestion was mitigation. Charge admission to the smoking room if you will but if the objective is to reduce the impact of smoking on others then the "Now I've got you you SOB" attitude has to stop. Besides, the taxes collected on tobacco pretty much would cover the modest cost of this accomodation.

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 25, 2007 at 12:23 pm

I wrote the original comment, which had to do with LITTER created by smokers. As I see it, this has NOTHING to do with whether there's an indoor space created for smokers. It DOES have to do with trash! Put the darn butts in your pocket or make sure they are extinguished and put them in a trash can. It's a DIRTY habit.

And don't get me started on the costs of smoking. We all pay hugely for this dirty habit in the form of health care costs.

Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2007 at 4:23 pm

What an excellent reply, Kathy! Why Walt is proposing tax dollars or other forms of hand-holding for litter abatement instead of personal responsibility is beyond me, and certainly not a position that I'd expect from a conservative.

Posted by Jon
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2007 at 4:35 pm

I am a conservative, and I have ALWAYS been offended by people who blow smoke in my direction. Either switch to chew or go inside your own dwelling!

Litter is also a big issue with smoking, but (pun intended) smokers are hardly the only ones. If there was a 10 cent recycle charge on butts, like there is with soda cans, you wouldn't see a single one on the ground.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2007 at 4:52 pm


I have been reluctant to get involved in this debate, but you have hit the nail on the head. Litter is not just about smokers, or soda drinkers, or any particular segment of the community. Litter is a horrible problem that affects us all and I hasten to add, we have probably all contributed to it in some form or other at some stage in our lives. From candy wrappers and juice box straw wrappers, it isn't the size of the trash, it is the fact that we are not diligent enough when it comes to picking up after ourselves. If we as adults cannot continually make the effort to pick up after ourselves, then we are not able to teach our children to do it properly. We must all think of the outside like we think of the inside of our homes. I presume our homes are not full of the little bits of debris that litter our parks, paths and other public places.

One other thing, I know that I pay a deposit on soda cans and the like, but where does one go to get the money back?

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