Should Sacramento ban outdoor smoking at bars?

If anything, maybe ban muggers and pistol-whippers and bicyclists who ride on sidewalks

I used to smoke a pack a day. Marlboro reds. Disgusting.

When I think back to those years as an undergrad student and movie-theater projectionist in Southern California, it’s difficult to fathom having the actual time to suck down 20 cigarettes in a single day. But it wasn’t until this past week, when a Sacramento council member hinted that he was working on an ordinance to ban smoking in some public spaces, that I thought much about how cigarettes impact nonsmokers.

For instance: Waiting for light rail at K and 12th streets is never pleasant. The Regional Transit ticket machines often are sticky. Sometimes, they reek of urine. The benches usually are wet, because someone sprayed the K Street Mall with a high-powered water hose to get rid of all the stickiness and pee.

One day last week, a guy plopped down next to me on the bench and lit up. The smoke feathered in my direction, ushered on by a strong wind, and it was more than bothersome: It was nauseating. And he was clueless.

But does this mean the city should prohibit puffing at light-rail stations, or at bar and restaurant patios? The latter spots, if they are part of the public domain, could be part of Councilman Steve Hansen’s ordinance, which he’s working on and might be ready in the fall.

Part of me thinks it’s not the government’s place to tell smokers whether they can light up on bar patios or what private businesses can allow. Should business owners be compelled to more aggressively police customers who are discourteous smokers? Absolutely. And maybe the city or local business associations should kick-start an awareness campaign.

On the other hand, there’s no denying smoking and secondhand smoking’s unhealthiness. It’s a public-health issue—and that is government’s place.

If I still smoked, I’d light up and think this debate over.

The Sacramento thread on Reddit was recently abuzz with discussion of a mugging and pistol-whipping in downtown last week.

What happened, according to the poster: Two women left popular bar R15 on Tuesday night, June 11, just after 10:30 p.m. on their way to the late-night snack spot La Garnacha Mexican Food. Four assailants held them up near S and 15th streets, two of them with guns. One of the girls refused to give up her purse, so a suspect struck her with his firearm.

This Reddit posting led to a discussion of, at deadline, 122 comments. Lots of good advice, some inappropriate jokes and even threats to retaliate. The take home: It’s summertime, be safe.

I’ve written about late-night muggings on the grid before, but I’ll repeat the Sacramento Police Department’s advice: Walk in well-lit places after dark and in groups, be aware of your surroundings (i.e., no drunken strolls) and, if you are accosted by a thief, give them whatever they ask for.

Another summertime reminder: Hey, bicyclists, try not to ride on sidewalks in commercials areas—because, you know, it’s illegal—and even where it is legal in residential spots, maybe it’s wiser just to stay on the street.

Two cyclists nearly hit me and my dog last night. They were in a rush, heading against eastbound traffic on N Street’s sidewalk and almost plowed us. Young kids, impressive-looking bikes. I’m glad to see them two-wheeling—just keep in the road, eh?

Or maybe Sacto should just ban sidewalk riding altogether?