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The Next Level of Smoking Ban

When a Silver Spring apartment complex announced that current residents would not be permitted to renew their leases if they don't agree to a ban on smoking, that looked like a new frontier in antismoking zealotry. But no: In several California towns, most recently in Belmont in the Bay Area, activists are pushing through measures that ban smoking entirely, with the sole exception of inside private, detached houses. That means no smoking in any public place, indoors or out.

Interestingly, the tobacco companies are staying out of the fray in those California cases. They've measured the public rage toward smoking and they've decided they don't stand a chance.

But at least some in the anti-smoking movement see this as a step too far. Michael Siegel is a Boston University researcher who has devoted decades of his career to documenting the dangers of secondhand smoke. A longtime advocate for restrictions on smoking, he is appalled by the latest moves in California:

When I went into the field of protecting the public from secondhand smoke, my understanding was that this wasn't about prohibiting smoking, it was simply about addressing the severe public health hazard posed by high levels of involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke. It now appears that I was wrong and that the ultimate goal was, and is, to simply get rid of all public smoking to completely eliminate the nuisance and protect nonsmokers from ever having to even see someone smoking.

It's beginning to look like I was sold a bill of goods

Siegel says the anti-smoking activists are losing sight of the real and justifiable goal--to make a big dent in how much people are exposed to secondhand smoke in a direct and potentially unhealthful fashion. Instead, he argues, the activists now seek to achieve something else entirely: To make a moral statement about smoking and smokers, and to wall themselves off from ever having to see a smoker. This shift in direction gives the anti-smoking movement more than a whiff of Talibanism; self-righteousness knows no cultural boundaries.

Siegel writes that the new California campaign "regulates smoking even when there is no risk to any bystander and it aims to protect the population from exposure to an infinitesimal dose of secondhand smoke. It's like using a sledgehammer to drive a quarter-inch nail."

Prohibition, this country once learned the hard way, not only doesn't work, it's counterproductive.

By Marc Fisher |  December 5, 2006; 7:45 AM ET
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Marc, I'm disturbed that you're conflating the situation in Silver Spring with this initiative in California. As many posters on both the blog and the weekly chat pointed out, there are real problems with smoking in multi-unit dwellings. As an apartment dweller, I don't care that my downstairs neighbor smokes. I do care that I can't open my windows or use my patio without being exposed to it. I do care that his smoke seeps into my apartment through the ventilation system. (And as someone who suffered minor lung damage as a result of chemotherapy, this is a problem.)

I recognize your assertion that this is all a slippery slope: any anti-smoking regulations, in your view, will result in all-out prohibition. But what would you have people like me do? Or people with asthma or severe allergies?

I guess I'd just like you to acknowledge the medical/health dimension of this issue instead of focusing solely on the rights of smokers.

Posted by: McLean | December 5, 2006 8:09 AM

We need to use the free market, instead of fighting it. How much is it worth it to person X to have a guaranteed smoke-free apartment, in $/month? How much is it worth it to person Y to have a guaranteed smoke-free bar, in $/beer? How much is it worth it to waiter/waitress Z to WORK in a guaranteed smoke-free bar, in terms of lost tips - and how much is it worth it to the bar owner to keep the good servers?

Posted by: J | December 5, 2006 8:57 AM

Even extremism can be funny. The anti-smoking zealots who proport to 'save' lives miss the point: Second-hand smoking does little damage compared to the copious amouts of carbon monoxide from vehicles log-jammed on our streets, roads, and highways. The anti-smoking facist myopic theorems against smokers overlook the tens of thousands of pounds of pollution being pumped into our atmosphere hourly.

The anti-smoking campaign has turned extreme yet again. A complete ban on smoking is an insight to their zealotry. A ban on anything should be considered and voted on: And not made law via activist judges.

My suggestion for apartment dwellers who smoke is to please do so outside of their dwelling. Thus, no 'smoky apartment' problems for the neighbors.

And too, the anti-smoking advocates who drive cars. Each time you preach anti-smoking agenda, take a good hard look at the tail pipe of that car in front of you and consider what is the bigger problem: Smoking or smoking?

Posted by: Bradford | December 5, 2006 9:02 AM

Keep it down, J, you are making too much sense. You don't want to let on that the free market can actually work as designed.

Posted by: sjf | December 5, 2006 9:11 AM

I don't fully agree with the California ban bu I also don't fully disagree.

I really do not like walking down the street when the person in front of me is smoking. He/she lets out a big exhale of smoke and the wind blows the cloud right into my face. Does my right to breath non-smoke filled air trump their right to kill themselves slowly?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2006 9:27 AM

Marc, I could have warned you about this years ago. People who are interested in regulating other peoples lives don't ever stop. After these people get finished with smoking they'll turn their sights on some other activity. This is why the NRA has to fight every inch of the way. The anti-gun people stake out an extreme position, only to give in to some "reasonable" control and we have lost a little. Then they come back again the next year for another inch. Smoking, guns, trans-fats, SUVs, motorcycles; if they succeed they will never stop.

Posted by: Stick | December 5, 2006 9:40 AM

Why can't the owners of a building make a choice about whether they are going to allow smoking? Just like choosing whether to allow pets, allowing smokers to live in your building is going to cost the building owner money.

Why is there a God given right to smoke? We don't let people drink alcohol on the streets. Why should I have to deal with someone's big cloud of smoke blowing into my face as I walk to work?

And what happened to all the "business" that was going to be lost from banning smoking. I don't hear too much complaining from NY bar owners.

Posted by: Blowing smoke in your face | December 5, 2006 9:40 AM

I hate getting trapped on the street behind a smoker, I can't breathe anything but smoke. I often have to hold my breath to enter a building, since there's a crowd of smokers at the entrance. And I hate constantly seeing cigarette butts on the ground everywhere. It's disgusting.

This legistlation makes me want to move to Belmont. Actually, my husband and I are looking to move to a different area of the country and the strength of smoke-free laws is a consideration in our choice. We've ruled out North Carolina, for example, since they'll be one of the last states to pass any sort of legislation to protect non-smokers.

FYI, I don't own a car. Do I now have the right to dislike second-hand smoke? Or must I still say, well there's one pollutant in the air, therefore I have to accept all pollution without complaint. That seems to be the attitude of some.

Posted by: I like breathing | December 5, 2006 9:49 AM

Amen, J! And, frankly, we can go a step further and use tax breaks to encourage non-smoking businesses and restaurants, etc. I think that if apartment buildings want to go smoke-free, that should be their right--but it shouldn't be up to the state. That information should be clearly stated in the lease application. There have been several places I declined to live because there was a noticeable smell of cigarettes.

I have no sympathy for the commenter who doesn't like it when people smoke in front of him in public. That is absolutely ridiculous. You're probably getting more carcinogens in your system from the exhaust from all the Metro Buses.

Posted by: radical centrist | December 5, 2006 9:49 AM

If we let the free market work its magic, we'd still have children working and losing their limbs in factories. There is no inherent goodness in the free market. There will always be people who exploit the weak if allowed. However, in this case, I do believe that the consumer demand for smoke free dwellings will fix the problem, as it did in the hotel industry. But it's insanity to pretend that the free market is some sort of noble cure all for every problem. Let the market fix the problem when it can and have sensible legislation when it can't.

Regarding the suggested imperative to accept all toxins because you must accept some, the same people who support smoking bans are generally the same people who support reductions in vehicle emissions and who support public transportation. So the message is pretty consistent. Saying that we should tolerate the existence of one public toxin because others exist is a logical fallacy.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2006 10:15 AM

I like breathing, you use electricity? Then you're worse than a smoker because coal fired power plants are like giant cigarettes, chuigging away 24-7. What about poor people, should they be forced to live next to a coal plant and smell the smoke? Basically, you don't want to hav to deal with the inconvenience of smoke every once and a while and you think only of yourself. Prohibitionist, you're exactly what the tobacco industry wants! A gross overreaction to tobacco and then 10 years later a new generation hooked on it because it's cool again. Just let smoking die out on it's own.

All this comes from a former smoker.

Posted by: Will | December 5, 2006 10:19 AM

Those coal-fired electrical plants are usually located pretty far away from dense population centers, and have scrubbing equipment on their stacks. Not perfect, sure, but not uncontrolled, either. Also, there's little comparison between the negative impacts of coal-fired electrictrical generation- electricity obviously improves and saves lives- and the negative impacts of nicotine- a toxic addictive drug- which has little redeeming social value save that it agrees with the esthetic of a decreasing percentage of the general population.

Posted by: Mark | December 5, 2006 10:30 AM

CA's approach seems to be working in reducing the # of people who smoke. Recent stats from the CDC show that CA is near the bottom for % of residents who smoke.

I live in San Francisco and know probably 2 smokers. Can't say that I miss being around smokers (I am a former DC resident), or that their smoking is a "choice" or some type of "freedom." It's more of an albatross.

We're creating an atmosphere here that makes this ugly social ill more difficult to take hold. An obesity will be next! Ha!

Seriously, if you really want to smoke in CA, you can. The anti-smoking laws are not strictly enforced, so there are many bars in SF and Oakland where you can smoke, so long as you exercise some self control and not smoke a full pack like the smokers do at bars in DC.

Posted by: Chris Hoofnagle | December 5, 2006 10:38 AM

For cryin' out loud how much smoke are you going to get walking down the street? People are so hysterical nowadays.

Posted by: Stick | December 5, 2006 10:55 AM

"There is no inherent goodness in the free market". I never claimed there was.
What I do claim is that the free market is an excellent way for people with different PREFERENCES to get the goods, services, and jobs that they want.
As long as you make smoking into a moral issue, you will lose. You can't successfully shame the smokers into quitting. Calling that 20+% of the population EVIL is counterproductive. It may make you feel superior and give you a good feeling inside, but doesn't do anything.

Posted by: J | December 5, 2006 10:55 AM

Marc, you are just wrong about the Silver Spring complex.

First, as others have pointed out, smoking in a multi-unit housing complex is no different from smoking in someone else's house in terms of the effect it has on the habitability of the others' apartments.

Second, as any realtor can tell you, allowing smoking inside a dwelling knocks a huge percentage off its resale value because the smell is almost impossible to eliminate. You can replace all the carpets and repaint the house and it will still stink. A building owner should be able to decide s/he doesn't want to shoulder that burden.

I have read many of Michael Siegal's writings on this subject and I think he's gone over to the other side. In this case, he is willfully ignoring the fact that having smoking on public display does have a documented negative effect even if bystanders don't have to breathe the smoke: it increases the likelihood that children will start smoking. 90% of adult smokers started and got hooked as children. 70% wish they could quit and struggle because nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug to which most smokers get hooked before they are old enough to know better. The more smoking is on display in public, movies, wherever, the more likely it is that children will be influenced to think it is "normal" to smoke. The more we can do to prevent that, the better, because the tobacco industry is pouring billions of dollars -- billions! -- into marketing their products every year.

You can laugh at CA all you like but they have the lowest percentage of smokers in the country. I would say, in fact, that the CA experience is proof that prohibition does work if your goal is to reduce usage. It doesn't work if your goal is to eliminate it; for that, you have to eliminate the incentives to produce the stuff. But it does reduce usage.

Smoking is not like drinking; drinking serves a useful purpose even though some people drink too much and are harmed. Smoking is more like heroin in terms of the percentage of users who are harmed by its use.

Posted by: smokefree housing | December 5, 2006 11:02 AM

Smoking in apartments? How about pets in apartments? Anyone want to weigh in on this one?

Posted by: Kieth Miller | December 5, 2006 11:26 AM

Why does J in his or her free market example ask only the non smokers to pay for their preferences? How about an all smoking all the time bar and an all smoking housing facility? What will the puffers pay to puff?

Posted by: crc | December 5, 2006 11:32 AM


the new California campaign "regulates smoking even when there is no risk to any bystander..."

is a crazy slippery slope. By this logic, after a restaurant smoking ban goes into effect, a patron should be permitted to smoke if there are no other patrons in the restaurant at the time and the staff keep their distance.

Posted by: DC in DC | December 5, 2006 11:36 AM

What is this useful purpose of alcohol consumption?

Posted by: deadbird | December 5, 2006 11:39 AM

People are legislative crazy. Zealotry run rampant. The free market should be used to regulate this, not a minority of people who want to annilate an industry at all costs.

What's next to prohibit? What do you hate? Obesity/exercise/television watching? SUVs? Perfume? What else ya got? Pushy type A personalities?

Posted by: toshiro | December 5, 2006 11:59 AM

We all pay taxes to support public places. I believe we should all agree that smoking outside is the best compromise. Please remember that cigarette smoke is a gas. A gas will change its volume to meet any change in absolute volume. This means the molecules of the gas cloud will become less dense outside of buildings. As the temperature of the gas cloud rapidly decreases, the heavy acetone, benzene and other poisons quickly fall to the earth.

The chance of getting any harmful damage from secondhand smoke, while outside, is quite remote.

Posted by: Jolly | December 5, 2006 12:01 PM

The issue is not that we don't want to see smokers. The isssue is that we don't want to breathe the smoke. I rarely see smokers first; I notice the smoke and have to wait to get away from the smoke before I can draw another breath. If outside smokers took themselves far enough away from others, we wouldn't have a problem.

Posted by: JML | December 5, 2006 12:12 PM

No health overtones, but this sounds to me uncomfortably like housing covenants: No Jews, no blacks, no smokers, no gays, etc.

Although I'm waiting for a smoker to explain to me why they always throw the butts on the ground and out car windows.

Posted by: Plessy | December 5, 2006 12:43 PM

I abhor smoking but concede smokers the right to do it outdoors, in their own houses, in their own cars. I agree with Marc, I think a reasonable middle ground for apartments would be to abolish smoking for new renters but not force the older ones out. Over a couple of years, given the turnover in most apartment houses, the 'ban' would essentially become total, but gradually.
Part of the problem with the antismoking 'crusade' is that it has become too moralistic; Talibanistic is a good word! One encounters similar moralistic arrogance from 'extreme' vegetarians, temperance crusaders, and what H L Mencken used to call 'wowsers and uplifters'. None of this is new, but it is just as annoying on our day as it was in Mencken's.

Posted by: Selden | December 5, 2006 12:48 PM

I think equating anti-smoking iniatives with civil rights abuses (like discrimination against ethnic or racial minorities) is fallacious. Sure, there are zealots in the anti-smoking brigade, but most of us who support these initiatives just don't want to have to breathe secondhand smoke. I live in an apartment and have no problem with my neighbor who smokes. I do have a problem with his cigarette smoke seeping into my apartment.

It's just not fair to lump all anti-smoking regulations together. Wishing for (relatively) non-carcinogenic air in one's own apartment or condo is not the hallmark of zealotry.

Posted by: Tysons | December 5, 2006 1:02 PM

My mother-in-law is an anti-smoking fanatic. She will go to great lengths to avoid any kind of cigarette smoke. This is my favorite story. Mother-in-law is walking along the trails of a local park and the people in front of her light up. Instead of speeding up to get around them or slowing down to get further away from them she decided to hold her breath and keep on going. Which causes her to pass out. The smokers came to her rescue and all was well. But the mental image of the power walking smokers and breath holding grandma make me laugh. Clearly, whatever small contact she would have had with the smoke would have been much healthier than fainting.

Posted by: Funny to Me | December 5, 2006 1:10 PM

I think most people would agree (certainly regarding older buildings) that yes, cigarette smoke can seep in through the vents to other apartments. But I don't understand why people shouldn't be able to smoke out on their balconies. All due respect to the person with lung problems, but are your neighbors out on their balconies 24 hours a day? And I don't believe that one cigarette would create some kind of huge smoke cloud.

Prohibition will only lead to a black market in cigarettes. Prohibition for alcohol didn't work, and prohibition for drugs isn't working.

I understand the desire to not breath smoke, but truly, this has gotten to the ridiculous point. As others have pointed out, what's the next step? B.O.? Too much perfume? Political correctness has run amok here, clearly. A little perspective, people!

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | December 5, 2006 1:30 PM

"What will the puffers pay to puff". Yeah, the math works that way too - but both ways assume that the government doesn't ban smoking outright. But there's no incentive to charge smokers more - they aren't the ones who are torqued off.

Posted by: J | December 5, 2006 1:34 PM

First comment, to radical centrist, amongst others. There seems to be some myth out there that carbon monoxide (CM) by itself is a carcinogen (cancer causing agent). It's not! It's not been proven to not be, but it's not even on the suspected list of carcinogens ( Now, tobacco IS a carcinogen; it causes cancer.

Second comment, about the Blair article... when I moved out of the Blair complex (Blair East) they asked me why and I told them "You don't allow pets." I had other complaints: I didn't like that they didn't notify residents when entering their apartments for upgrades (e.g., new countertop), they just left a note afterwards. It was the countertop note that upset me since it took two days (so I was without a counter for a night on no advanced notice) and helped me to decide when to move, but I made sure that the first reason I gave was the pet policy. It seems I wasn't the only one.

Posted by: proxli | December 5, 2006 1:42 PM

But wait, there's more ...

Maryland smokers pay $1.00 per pack for the product. Most smokers go through around two packs a day so that is $2.00 a day into the state treasury. The last estimate I heard from Annapolis was $360,000,000 of the state budget was funded by this tax every year.

Say the anti-smokers win and everybody quits smoking. Will the budget be cut by $360,000,000 a year or will income taxes go up to recover this loss?

Another issue is the health care costs associated with smoking. Say everybody quits ... will the health insurance companies be REQUIRED to reduce everybodies insurance rates since they will save so much on claims?

Or, will the hospitals increase costs across the board to recover the lost income from treating smokers? I haven't seen many health care or hospital costs going down for any reason so my money is on cost increases from doctors and hospitals.

I will also bet on increased income taxes and no reduction in insurance rates.

Add all that to the democratic control of Maryland with probable health care for everybody subsidized by the workers (sounds a little like socialism, doesn't it?) and it looks like the only people who won't lose money are the smokers who quit. They won't be paying a $1.00 per pack anymore (or $2.00 per day) but they will be paying the equivelant in increased income taxes and medical costs. Except now the non-smokers will be paying too.

As a smoker I would say to the non-smokers - you lose.

Posted by: Wait up | December 5, 2006 1:42 PM

Anti smoking advocates do not want to see smokers. Result, They will be driven underground the same as gays were driven underground for their lifestyle choice.
Anyway enforcement is impossible since by the time the cops come you're done with your smoke... Its not against the law to smell like smoke or possess a pack of Lucky's...
Last ... To question posted above,
Smokers flick their butts out of car windows to keep their ashtray clean. This is esspecially true with cars that are on a lease.

Posted by: gmarkross3 | December 5, 2006 1:45 PM

To 'Wait up"....that was my sentiment when I quit!

Posted by: Kieth Miller | December 5, 2006 1:52 PM

In response to Alexandria, no, my neighbor isn't out on his patio 24 hours a day. However, on mild days he generally comes home from work shortly before I do and spends the evening sitting on his patio and chain-smoking. Unfortunately, the overhang of the roof and the design of the patio causes the smoke to sort of pool up right on my patio. (Running an industrial fan at high speed helps but, amazingly, doesn't eliminate the problem.)

And, again, I'm not trying to defend the prohibitions against smoking outdoors--I'm trying to make the point that what smokers do in multiunit dwellings does negatively affect those who live around them.

Posted by: McLean | December 5, 2006 1:53 PM

Should, in a hypothetical world, the $360 million of revenue from cigarette sales tax disappear in MD, it would more than be offset by the benefits gained to society. According to the CDC, "Estimates show that smoking caused over $150 billion in annual health-related economic losses from 1995 to 1999 including $81.9 billion in mortality-related productivity losses (average for 1995-1999) and $75.5 billion in excess medical expenditures in 1998. The economic costs of smoking are estimated to be about $3,391 per smoker per year." Maryland's share of these expenses is definitely more than the $360 million.

Also, the argument about lost tips to people working in bars is silly to any one who has been to New York City. How about how much a smoker should pay me for the extra laundry I had to do for a night spent in a smokey bar?

The more children see smokers, the more likely they are to smoke. I don't have a problem with removing smokers from movies and streets. Like others have said, we aren't allowed to drink alcohol on the street. Why should the drug nicotine be given a special allowance?

Posted by: amy | December 5, 2006 1:58 PM

I have no problem with people smoking in public -- as long as they don't exhale!

Posted by: ralph | December 5, 2006 2:07 PM

I don't like the combination of morality/economics that is used to tackle smoking. The result is more gov't control over our lives and less freedom.

Amy, by your moral/economic argument, obesity will be next. I'd like to see the 'societal impact' numbers on that one. Smoking, motor cycle helmets, baby seats-- obesity will beat them all. The worst thing about this trend is it criminalizes these behaviors. You become a criminal for doing things that our mothers and fathers did-- for smoking. For driving without a baby seat. No motor cycle helmet. Get fined. Go to jail. Lose possession of your kids. Become marginalized. Why do we insist on using shackles in this supposedly free society?

Posted by: toshiro | December 5, 2006 2:15 PM

"Although I'm waiting for a smoker to explain to me why they always throw the butts on the ground and out car windows."

Should I assume that if you eat or chew gum on the street, you always throw your trash on the ground? Or that if you accept a flyer, you throw it on the ground? Because there is plenty of non-butt trash out there.

I am a smoker. I am not pleased about the ban in the district and Montgomery County - I live and work here, too, and would like to enjoy myself with the minimum harm to others. However, I clearly have to accept it. Maybe it'll cut down on or eliminate my own smoking, maybe it won't. I wonder if the district would consider paying for outdoor heat lamps for the restaurants and bars that have already invested money in fabulous air filtration systems so as to be able to happily accomodate both their smoking and non-smoking customers.

When I walk down the street, I stick to the outer edge of the sidewalk to avoid blowing smoke in other people's space. Then I hold my spent butt until I find a trash can, just like anyone should with trash they produce whie walking down or standing on the street. We do need more trashcans, as they are only concentrated in the downtown and central business district.

In a bar or other indoors location, I hold my cigarette up and away from other, and blow smoke away from others. Then again, until the ban takes effect, you should consider whether a bar is smoking or non-smoking if you really want to avoid any smoke exposure at all - non-smoking bars do already exist.

When I have to drive somewhere, I collect my butts in a trash receptacle in my vehicle.

Smokers aren't automatically rude litterers.

Posted by: Nicole | December 5, 2006 2:18 PM

I would love to know many anti-smoking zealots are former smokers. I think their anti-smoking attitudes are so strident because they're cheesed off that others are still enjoying a filthy habit they don't allow themselves anymore. Most never-smokers I know don't seem to mind smoke unless they're trapped in a car or small space with the stinking, cancer-causing fumes. Or perhaps they are just polite enough not to criticize other people's personal vices.

Posted by: Logan | December 5, 2006 3:31 PM

Beware claims that people stopping smoking would save money. Type in costs of smoking into Yahoo and the seond article that pops up is a New England Journal of Medicine article that says, in the long run, health care costs would rise if people stopped smoking. This concurs with an article on a Dutch research paper I read, but can't locate at the moment.

Posted by: jibberjabber | December 5, 2006 3:39 PM

I just looked at the article jibberjabber mentioned, and it's true that longterm healthcare costs would increase. But this quote from the abstract reveals why, "Smokers have more disease than nonsmokers, but nonsmokers live longer and can incur more health costs at advanced ages."

Posted by: Is this desirable? | December 5, 2006 3:51 PM

As a former smoker, I am certainly not an anti-smoking zealot. The way I see it, no amount of secondhand smoke can possibly do me as much harm as 20 years of smoking unflitered Camels did.

I am just glad I quit for cost reasons. When I go in a drugstore and see that cigarettes are now $30 and more a carton, it makes me realize how lucky I was to buy those Camels for less than $2 a carton at the old People's Drugs at DuPont Circle.

Posted by: Jack | December 5, 2006 3:51 PM

So, if I were to add all the poisons in cigarettes to your multi-unit building's drinking water, I would be within my rights?

On 6/27/06:
U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona today issued a comprehensive scientific report which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. ... Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer, the report says.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2006 3:59 PM

I can kill someone by smoking, but not by stabbing them? What about the people who demand a right to compulsively stab? Why are they discriminated against, while smokers aren't? Why don't I have the right to stab people in my own home? Sounds like the anti-stabbers have been allowed to legislate morals.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2006 4:24 PM

There's prohibition on marijuana, opium, stealing, raping, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2006 4:28 PM

A brief history of Carmona indicates that he has quite the agenda when it comes to smoking. He has a history of embracing statistics that favor his views. And he's using the bully pulpit of the Surgeon General's office to push this agenda.

I'm not opposed to the anti-smoking lobbying per se, but needs to be more equitable and fair and not so mob like and despotic-- shelve the religious zeal.

From the Silver Spring Blair Apt episode:
"This came out of the blue," says Hughes, a 40-year-old photojournalist. "If they can do this, what's to stop them from declaring it an alcohol-free complex?" Or fatty foods-free. Appalled that he could be forced to move if he won't stop smoking in his own home, Hughes appealed to county officials.

No luck. "I do understand your concerns, especially for long-time tenants who may have to move if they cannot commit to living smoke-free," County Council President George Leventhal e-mailed Hughes. But "smokers are not a protected class" under the law, Leventhal said, and he would not support any change in the law to protect smokers from having to leave their homes.

Smokers aren't a protected class?? So...let me get this straight. Drum up enough support and use legislation to create a 'class' of people who can be freely discriminated against at will.

I hope all of the liberals out there who think that a smoking prohibition is a good idea are proud. Chase those bad people into a tiny corner of the world. Good job in coming up with fair and equal compromises between people of differing views.

Link on Carmona:

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2006 4:35 PM

Sorry Logan, I disagree with your former smokers now anti-smoking zealot theory. First of all, I'd guess you are a smoker, second of all, I'd guess you are young b/c you obviously think the world still revolves around you if former smokers are "cheesed off" at you. I'd guess you are educated and professional, early to mid-20s from a middle to upper middle class background and probably white. But I digress.

J actually makes the most sense on here. The problem is indeed the slippery slope of government legislation on otherwise legal products. Please see article on NYC now banning trans fat. This is simply counterintuitive to a free enterprise democracy. In short, it is un-American.

Posted by: ryan | December 5, 2006 4:46 PM

Wow. Really close. But try non-smoker, mid-forties and Cuban. But close.

But I agree that J makes sense. The market as opposed to fiat should be allowed to work.

Posted by: Logan | December 5, 2006 5:19 PM

Nobody likes crusaders.

Posted by: Will | December 5, 2006 5:32 PM

"Smokers flick their butts out of car windows to keep their ashtray clean. This is esspecially true with cars that are on a lease."

That's hardly a valid excuse for littering the streets.

Posted by: Rich | December 5, 2006 5:47 PM


Do you find it a little ironic that you always defend the right of private businesses like restaurants and bars to determine their own smoking policy but think a private apartment building doing so constitutes zealotry?

Posted by: Danny | December 5, 2006 6:34 PM

Good question, Danny. No, I don't see a contradiction there because, as I wrote in the original column, an apartment building owner has the same right as a bar or restaurant owner to cater to a particular segment of the market by offering non-smoking facilities. But the Silver Spring apartment building goes a whole lot further by ordering long-time residents who smoke to get out: That's a very different kind of imposition because living in a building for an extended period carries with it an expectation that you will be able to stay there so long as you can pay the rent. In the end, it's a matter of weighing the importance of the smoking issue against the importance of the attachments people form with the place where they live. I think the latter is a vastly more basic element of human life.

Posted by: Fisher | December 5, 2006 10:33 PM

[In the end, it's a matter of weighing the importance of the smoking issue against the importance of the attachments people form with the place where they live. I think the latter is a vastly more basic element of human life.]

Because the smoking issue ends life, so it's a basic element of human death. Does the right of liberty to hurt someone supersede the social contract to live without abuse?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 6, 2006 10:51 AM

My mother-in-law used to live in a garden apartment in Arlington. Her apartment smalled of cigar smoke 24/7. She never smoked, but the man who rented the apartment beneath hers apparently smoked cigars every waking hour. I walked by his apartment once when he happened to open the door and seeing the cloud of smoke that came out I thought that his apartment was on fire. If I lived in an apartment like my mother's-in-law, I'd wish for a smoke-free building.

Posted by: Dennis | December 6, 2006 11:28 AM

Ryan, not all of this is going to be directed at you, but since you chimed in on my demographic I figured I should respond...I am that White, middle-class, mid-20's, educated, professional that happens to be a smoker. Now the part that does not fit is the fact that you stated (in reference to my age group) "I'd guess you are young b/c you obviously think the world still revolves around you." See, that's just the thing...I don't think the world revolves around me, in fact, it does not revolve around either of us. So, why are your rights more important than mine. People are comparing not smoking on the sidewalks to not drinking on the hugh issue, you are telling me I can't smoke in the bar. I wanted to reference you to another blog because I do not want to re-type everything.

Posted by: DC | December 6, 2006 2:16 PM

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