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Fairfax bans smoking in bus shelters

Kafia Hosh

No more lighting up while you wait for the bus in Fairfax County.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a ban on smoking in county-owned bus shelters after a public hearing. Violators will be fined up to $25. The ban becomes effective on Dec. 1.

The Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act requires state agencies and localities to consider reasonable no-smoking areas in any building they own or lease.

Larry Sternbane, a regular REX bus commuter, encouraged supervisors to pass the smoking ban.

"I just don't think people should be able to smoke in a bus shelter and expose others to second-hand smoke," he said.

Sternbane said smokers typically gather inside the shelter when it rains.

"I had the uncomfortable situation of sitting in the bus shelter in the rain ... covered in cigarette smoke," said Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee), who rides the REX bus.

The ban, however, does not require smokers to stand a minimum distance away from a bus shelter.

"You could have somebody standing outside that line and have as much smoke coming into the shelter as if you were in the shelter," Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said.

That is because Fairfax has to work within the confines of state law.

"Its not perfect but it's a major step forward," McKay said of the ban.

The county will post no-smoking signs in its 214 bus shelters. Each sign costs $2, for a total cost of $428.

The ban comes after the state's prohibition on smoking in restaurants. It repeals a section of the county code that requires restaurants to designate a percentage of their seating as no-smoking areas, since it is inconsistent with state law.

The ban also adds Fairfax County police as the enforcement authority.

This post has been updated.

From the Post's archives:

Fairfax weigh bans on smoking in bus shelters

What do you think about the proposed ban? Post a comment below.

By Kafia Hosh  | October 19, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  Commuter Bus, Commuting, Metrobus, Northern Virginia, Virginia  
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I hope they ban smoking in all public places!

Posted by: soccerhead | October 19, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope they ban smoking in all public places!

Posted by: soccerhead | October 19, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

This seems dumb to me. I'm not a smoker and I dislike the smell of cigarette smoke, but it seems to me that if you ban smoking under the bus shelter, the smoker will just take one step outside the shelter and smoke away, such that the smoke may well still wind up getting blown into the shelter. Plus the real problem (slobs who throw their cigarette butts on the ground all over the place) won't go away.

This one just seems like a well-intentioned idea that in practice results in pointless government-imposed regulations.

Posted by: 1995hoo | October 19, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

This should apply within a 50 foot radius of the bus shelters so that their stink can be kept away more effectively.

Smokers are filthy fire hazards and should be extinguished.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Smoking should be prohibited in all places.

Posted by: prokofiev85 | October 19, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Smoking should be prohibited in all places.
For those who smoke, I suggest that they find other methods for enjoyment.

Posted by: prokofiev85 | October 19, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

How would the ban affect the shelters at West Falls Church Metro used by Fairfax Connector?

Posted by: jlowry1 | October 20, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

The left is testing the waters for public bans outside of bars and restaurants. This kind of legislation is just based in hatred of smokers. Would you pass laws prohibiting men from dressing like flamboyant homosexuals? You'd consider that bigoted. Smoke outdoors smells bad, nothing more. But lots of people smell bad, their clothes smell bad, yet do we ban them?This has nothing to do with health, becaues it's outdoors, the enclosure is only 3 ways, the smoke leaves. What's far more hazardous to the health of people in busstops is cars that hit them, or the exhaust from cars or the very busses they are waiting for. This laws are simply out of hatred for smokers, and thus there is no rational basis behind it.

Posted by: scoran | October 20, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

scoran, you stink. That is the very definition of rational basis. Playing the gay card isn't going to get you anywhere, bigot.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 20, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

"How would the ban affect the shelters at West Falls Church Metro used by Fairfax Connector?"

The West Falls Church Metro stop is located in Fairfax County, as are its bus shelters. The city/county line is just to the south of there.

Posted by: 1995hoo | October 20, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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