Atlantic Cities
This Week in Bans

Soon, the Only Place to Smoke in San Francisco Will Be Alcatraz

Soon, the Only Place to Smoke in San Francisco Will Be Alcatraz
torbakhopper/Flickr

Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (past editions here):

SMOKING OUTSIDE, IN CALIFORNIA

What's the heck is going on in formerly freedom-loving San Francisco? First the city bans old men from biking around the Embarcadero with their jimmies out, and now it's cracking down on smoking in the open air. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure forbidding lighting up at outdoor public events. (Cigarettes, that is. Presumably weed is still OK.) Promoters who hold hundreds of permitted concerts and festivals each year now have to post "No Smoking" signs and interrupt their productions every two hours to say the same thing over a loudspeaker.

Adding a new wrinkle to San Francisco's already-crazy real estate scene, the ordinance also carries a stipulation that landlords must disclose the number of smoking units in their buildings to prospective tenants. Supervisor Eric Mar said this measure would help reduce conflict before and after move-ins, according to the San Francisco Examiner:

“Many prospective tenants are not told whether smoking is permitted in units within close proximity to the unit they are considering,” Mar said, adding that “disclosure also benefits landlords by reducing nuisance complaints and disputes regarding secondhand smoke.”

With smoking also forbidden at bus tops, in parks and near doors, it's getting to the point in San Francisco that the only place to enjoy a cancer stick is the dock on Alcatraz Island. Buy your ferry tickets today, smokers!

DEADLY KITE STRING, IN INDIA


(Paul Chapman on Flickr)

Although they recently banned it from being sold in local markets, officials in Amritsar are having a difficult time stopping people from flying kites with fatally sharp strings. The plastic Chinese product, called Dragon Dor, is prized by kite-fighting enthusiasts for its resilience against snapping and its fierce design – when stretched, bits of zinc embedded in the material pop out like tiny razors. Unfortunately, these are bad qualities when the jagged thread encounters a fleshy human target, and passes through it like soft lard.

The Daily Bhaskar reports that Dragon Dor has been responsible for six or seven bloody accidents in northern India, including a near-beheading of a school teacher riding a motorcycle. "The cut was so severe and deep that doctors said it looked as if his neck had been slit by a kirpan (small dagger)," said a relative of the teacher, who died in minutes. Dragon Dor also slit the neck and hands of a child riding a scooter with his parents, almost took out both eyes of another victim, and deeply slashed the arm of a visiting New Zealander. Another boy was electrocuted when the metallic string touched a high-voltage wire.

Police have vowed to continue raiding shops for the illicit import. In other news from the world of Indian fun and games, the authorities are warning people against the dangers of hydrogen cylinders used to fill balloons, which have exploded to kill or injure “many” people.

LONELY PHONE-BOMBING GRANNY, IN AUSTRALIA


(Ocskay Bence/Shutterstock)

A court in Caboolture, Australia, has banned a 67-year-old “serial pest” from dialing the Queensland Ambulance Service after finding she made 1,000 such calls since 2007 – costing taxpayers about $1 million in misdirected resources. Valerie Gough dialed 000 (the Aussie version of America's 911) so many times that staffers at the emergency-dispatch office started taking stress leaves, reports the Sunshine Coast Daily. When she couldn't get through to the ambulance service, she dialed the fire department and asked to be transferred. The recipients of Gough's calls mostly got to hear about her long list of afflictions, including swollen ankles, anxiety pangs and loneliness.

When Gough was convicted this week of 302 charges of "improper use of a carriage service," stealing and other things, she said she felt "sick" (while presumably reaching for a phone). If you're wondering if she's apologetic for tying up the line at the expense of real emergencies, it's quite the opposite. A camera crew from "A Current Affair" caught up with her and got this opinion on the verdict: "F**k off!"

Top photo courtesy of torbakhopper on Flickr.

John Metcalfe is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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