DOWNEY – Councilman Mario Guerra wanted to talk about a proposal to curb smoking, and not even the rigid procedural rules of a City Council meeting could stop him.
Despite efforts by Mayor Luis Marquez and Councilman Roger Brossmer to delay a discussion whether the city’s staff should study implementing smoking regulations, Guerra managed to speak on the issue at length during Tuesday’s council meeting.
The study was request by Councilman Fernando Vasquez, but Vasquez wasn’t able to make Tuesday’s meeting. Due Vasquez’s absence, Marquez proposed putting off the smoking discussion to a future meeting.
“It was an issue of showing respect to Councilman Vasquez since he was the one who suggested the study,” Marquez said.
Councilman David Gafin also missed the meeting.
Guerra wasn’t having it. He tried to convince Marquez and Bossmer to take up the issue.
Guerra opposed the staff spending time on the issue, saying state laws already regulated tobacco use.
“If they see that three of us don’t want that, why should (the staff) waste time (on the study)?” Guerra asked.
Marquez and Bossmer refused, instead voting to put the issue off until a future meeting, defeating Guerra in a 2-1 vote.
Undeterred, Guerra used the next item on the agenda — a measure to delegate Marquez to a League of California Cities business meeting — to discuss how he opposed any city-initiated smoking study. He suggested Marquez tell the League of Cities that smoking regulations should be left to the state.
He then motioned to appoint Marquez as the delegate.
Marquez grinned, replying: “Thank you for your creative support.”
Earlier during the meeting, several students from a local youth chapter of a Kiwanis club spoke out against public smoking. After the meeting, Guerra approached the students and chatted about his reasons for opposing more smoking regulations.
Several Southern California cities have taken hard stances against tobaco use. Calabasas, Baldwin Park, Glendale and South Pasadena have all voted in strict laws to curb public smoking, such as prohibiting smoking in parks or making it illegal to light up in a shared apartment building.
But Downey has taken few measures to curb public smoking, according to a 2010 report from the American Lung Association, which graded each city’s smoking regulations.
Downey received an “F,” a grade shared by almost every city in southeastern Los Angeles County, according to the study.
A recent Gallup poll found that 59 percent of people in the United States were against smoking in public places.
Groups supporting civil liberties, however, have pushed hard against controls against tobacco use, saying such laws allow government too much intrustion into private lives.