East Bay News
Online petition seeks smoking ban at Lake Merritt
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland's Lake Merritt is a nice place to visit and walk. It's a nice place to look at the ducks and to run, but how about to smoke?
A new front is opening up in the battle between smokers and those who don't want to breathe their smoke.
An online petition is pushing for a ban on smoking at Lake Merritt. The petition, on a site called Change.org, is making some waves around normally placid Lake Merritt.
"I just try to be mindful. People are very sensitive about smoking nowadays, and I'm not oblivious to that," said one smoker.
But clearly, the smoke offends people; hence the 250 signatures on an Internet petition to the Oakland City Council that would ban smoking along Lake Merritt's perimeter.
Councilmember Libby Schaaf hasn't seen it -- yet.
"Certainly we've seen other petitions with more signatures than that, but 250 people is certainly something that's going to make us stand up and take notice," she said.
Smokers in Oakland are already banned from office buildings and areas within 25 feet of them.
Runners around Lake Merritt said they support the proposal. Why be forced to breathe lethal fumes when exercising, they asked.
"It's horrible, I can't stand it. It's almost disrespectful to the runners," runner Shabob Gaskin said. "This is a jogging and running area, not a smoking area."
But it's not that simple. At its core, the effort isn't so much about smoking as a fundamental argument about the nature of freedom -- does health outweigh the right to harm one's lungs?
"This world is going nuts. Our freedoms are disappearing all over. This is wrong," said John Mayer, a Lake Merritt walker.
Dog walker Eleni Hue said, "I do believe that smoking isn't good for anybody, but if it's in an outdoor area, I don't believe you can you legislate that."
But some are going to try.
"We have a right to have clean and fresh air as much as they have a right to smoke in designated areas," said Gaskin. Smokers should smoke somewhere other than the lake, he said.
ABC7 News reached out to the author of the petition by e-mail but did not receive a response. City council members have never seen an actual petition so this virtual effort may last as long as a puff of smoke in the air.
smoking, oakland, lake merritt, east bay news, wayne freedman
- Protesters vacate CCSF building, head to City Hall 27 min ago
- Virgin to stop service at Mineta San Jose Airport
- Bay Bridge bike path temporarily closed for work
- Parents discuss Oakland school assaults with police
- Vehicle runs over gas line, hits SJ DMV building
- Uber announces new insurance policy for drivers
- Costco recalls cases of freeze-dried fruit 38 min ago
- Scrabble asks fans to choose new word for dictionary 49 min ago
- Quiznos files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
- Group says GM airbag failures caused 303 deaths
- Bay Area kids look to strike gold on ABC's 'Shark Tank'
- Photos: Meet the stars where you live
- roundup: AltCar Expo; Motorcyclist killed 4 min ago
- weather: Bay Area weather forecast for Saturday
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos