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article imageOp-Ed: Bay Area raises smoking age while ignoring the homeless

By Stan Rezaee     Mar 2, 2016 in Politics
San Francisco - As housing prices in the Bay Area skyrocket so high that many can’t afford to live in the community, local governments are failing to properly address the crisis while focusing on trivial issues.
One such trivial issue has been raising the age of buying tobacco products from 18 to 21.
So how are these two random subjects related? The cost of living has been gone so high that working class families are being priced out of their homes and into the streets. However, local governments have instead opted to either ignore the issue or hope it works itself out while focusing on trivial issues such as going after the tobacco industry.
Between February 25 to March 1, the city of San Francisco raised the age of buying tobacco from 18 to 21 while at the same time cracked down on several homeless encampments. The residents of these camps were directed to shelters that are often overcrowded and their resources have been stretched thin.
Instead of actually addressing the issue head on, Mayor Ed Lee has instead opted to ignore the problem while pushing to host major events like the Super Bowl or the American Cup. Because by his logic, a bunch of temporary minimum wage jobs should solve the cities income inequality problem.
At the same time; Mayor Lee has wasted city resources during these events to force the homeless population off the streets and out of sight so they don't ruin his ideal image of what the city is supposed to look like.
San Francisco is not alone. San Jose under former Mayor Chuck Reed wasted city resources in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball. At the same time more resources were wasted in defending Measure B, the controversial Police pension reform, that has resulted in an exodus of police officers and a spike in crime.
Meanwhile as the cost of living skyrocketed, Mayor Reed ignored the problem and instead wasted city resources in cracking down on homeless encampments.
Instead of actually addressing the issues, these communities have followed the example of former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who ignored the problems of income inequality or fought against addressing the problem. However he diverted a lot of resources and attention on trivial issues like the soda tax.
Local Bay Area governments cannot sit back and expect the free market and charities to solve the homeless crisis, instead they actually need address the problem. The cities needs to establish more shelters along with enhanced social programs to help the disenfranchise of the community. While these may be a few suggestions, its better then the "wait and see" approach.
Even though smoking is unhealthy habit, fighting Big Tobacco has now become less of a health crusade and more like beating a dead horse.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Smoking ban, Bay area, Homeless, san francisco homeless, Social issues
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