“It took six months of work/collaboration, and tonight the Council voted, 4-0, to pass the No Smoking Ordinance!” Irvine councilmember Farrah Khan exclaimed in a Facebook post about the citywide public smoking ban on Oct. 22.
On Oct. 11, Senate Bill 8 was signed to ban smoking in state parks and on state beaches. Senator Steve Glazer, who introduced the bill, said, “This bill will provide a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for people, fish and wildlife. . . . Many forest fires have been caused by discarded cigarettes, and this bill can help there, too.”
Strict smoking regulation is trending, thanks to Laguna Beach and Dana Point taking the lead on citywide public smoking bans in 2017. Dana Point actually adopted it at the first council meeting in 2018. It was controversial. During those months, I picked up 3,573 cigarette butts during five cleanups on the same route, covering about three-tenths of a mile. Coastal Cleanup Day data shows cigarette butts are the No. 1 litter item. And filtered butts are made of a single-use plastic known as cellulose acetate.
Whenever it comes to a ban like this, some would argue about freedom. Freedom, as explained by Fr. James Martin in The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, is “the freedom to become the person you’re meant to be, to love and to accept love, to make good decisions, and to experience the beauty of creation.”
Unfortunately, leadership is realized in hindsight, and leadership is a lonely road. Much of my effort has been identifying a potential leading councilmember for an environmental cause, then support her or him. I’ve been repeatedly told Orange County is not San Francisco, not Santa Cruz, not Manhattan Beach—the “not” list goes on—along the same coastline. But this little strip of OC actually got a few things done for the ocean:
• In 2012, Laguna Beach and Dana Point banned plastic bags.
• Between 2007 and 2012, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, San Clemente and Dana Point banned Styrofoam food receptacles. And this year, Dana Point and San Clemente tightened the regulations a little bit.
But we’re far from done, not even with smoking. Look at how our local cities scored in American Lung Association’s 2019 State of Tobacco Control report:
• Laguna Beach: C
• Dana Point: D
• Irvine, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano: F
Irvine decided an F is not acceptable anymore. But this Irvine teen reminds us much more must be done.
Jennifer Kim, 13, Irvine
Through my research of ocean pollution, I was shocked by the sheer number of trash thrown away into the sea, as well as the thousands of dead fish from oil spills in the ocean. The pollution is symbolized by a sick-looking fish with a soda can body, to represent “sashimi” on the plate that the food we eat ends up on. Around it are garnishes for the “sashimi” which are trash, such as cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, and so on. The “soy sauce” is made of petroleum, and there are “lemon” garnishes of old tires. I used acrylic paint to emphasize the fish along with several other “garnishes” on watercolor. Around the plate are old articles concerning pollution. I named this piece “Trashimi” to reflect on the items from the sea that we will eventually consume, but also as “Trashme” because the trash that we humans throw away just come back to us in a cycle.
My fellow ocean lovers, leaders and voters, every time we post an ocean picture online, let’s ask ourselves, “What should I be doing to save the ‘sick-looking fish’?”
Hoiyin Ip is often recognized on the street as the plastic lady for her cleanup work. But she likes to think of herself as a guardian of the ocean. She is often reminded of a quote by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”