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Fairfax moves to ban smoking at bus shelters

Fairfax County officials are pushing to ban smoking at all public bus shelters, eight months after Virginia's restaurant-and-bar smoking ban went into effect.

The ban would address the "health implications of breathing secondhand smoke," said Fairfax Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee), the board's transportation committee chairman. Virginia's no-smoking law was approved by the General Assembly in February 2009 and went into effect last December. The District and Maryland have similar state laws regarding smoking in restaurants and bars.

The Virginia Clean Air Act allows localities to institute "reasonable no-smoking areas" at publicly-owned or leased facilities and bus shelters qualify as buildings under Virginia's building code. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously late Tuesday to draft an ordinance for final adoption.

In December, Virginia joined the District, Maryland and dozens of other cities and states by effectively outlawing smoking inside restaurants and bars. Under the law, owners could allow smokers to head to an outside patio or a separately ventilated room but smoking in common areas was banned. Fines can be assessed at $25.

Many of Northern Virginia's restaurants and bars had already gone smoke free but Virginia's tobacco history is rich -- it's the home of the country's first commercial tobacco plant (at Jamestown, in 1612), the nation's largest tobacco manufacturer (Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, in Henrico County, Va.) and was the commonwealth's top cash crop until 2004 (replaced by the soybean).

By Derek Kravitz  |  July 28, 2010; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  !General Assembly , Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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Comments

I was shocked the first time I went to an open air stadium and told I could not smoke in my seat. The wind was 20 mph and I could not understand how anyone could object.

Boy was I naive.

Now they want to ban smoking outside at bus shelters?

How far are we from banning smoking on sidewalks, public parks, and in your car?

Posted by: cibor | July 28, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Bus shelters are mini-greenhouses and trap all the smoke. Good for Fairfax county.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 28, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I hope the ban passes. Nothing irks me more than being ambushed with a puff of toxic cigarette smoke out on a sidewalk or at a bus stop. Would you like it if you were just going about your business trying to get to work and I squirted you in the face as you walked past with a spray of something that harmed your health and smelled awful? It's rude and a serious public health issue. I can't believe this is even a debate in this day and age.

Posted by: VirginiaDad | July 28, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Insurance should fund nicotine addiction treatment centers for those who want to quit but cannot.

Posted by: blasmaic | July 28, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Banning smoking in buildings, planes, trains etc: fine
Banning in restaurants: fine
Banning in bars: should be at the owners discretion
Banning on a public sidewalk: ridiculous

But yes cibor, just wait til the mommy&daddypatrol ban it everywhere - then we will have morality police to turn thos evil smokers over to the smoking police.

Prove that 2nd hand smoke causes anything. That it and it alone causes cancer. Please, somebody, anybody?

Then please prove that smoking increases pollutant levels in the air at a rate that exceeds pollutant increases by cars, buses and businesses.

It's rude? We are going to start instituting bans over rudeness? Iran, when did I move to Iran?

Posted by: Greent | July 28, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

VirginiaDad wrote:

"I hope the ban passes. Nothing irks me more than being ambushed with a puff of toxic cigarette smoke out on a sidewalk or at a bus stop. Would you like it if you were just going about your business trying to get to work and I squirted you in the face as you walked past with a spray of something that harmed your health and smelled awful? It's rude and a serious public health issue. I can't believe this is even a debate in this day and age."
----------------------------------------------

That one random puff of smoke is going to destroy your lung capacity for life.

Oh, the horror!!!

Posted by: Ken_Davis1 | July 28, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Normally I'm against governments restricting personal activities, but not this time. Smokers have brought this on themselves. Most of them are dirty pigs when it comes to where they put their ashes and cigarette butts. Just look at how many butts you see around any bus stop, often just a few feet from an ashtray or trash can. And how many times a week do you see somebody toss one from their car window? You can't tell me their car has no ashtray. No sympathy from me; these slobs have themselves created the general public's anti-smoking sentiment, now they have to live with the effects.

Posted by: hangjbat | July 28, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"Insurance should fund nicotine addiction treatment centers for those who want to quit but cannot."

Posted by: blasmaic

===================================

Remember when they raised taxes on cigarettes and claimed the money would go to treat cigarette-related illness?

Never happened.

I quit smoking because of anti-smoking Nazi's who claim the "toxic cigarette smoke" "harmed your health" if you breathed in just a fume while walking on a street.

I take a medication to stop smoking and it costs me $150 a month. My health insurance policy does not cover "smoking cessation programs" or "smoking cessation medications" even though it requires a prescription.

Why don't the anti-smoking Nazi's DEMAND health insurance policies cover medications and programs to help people quit?

Because it's not "all about them"!

Posted by: cibor | July 28, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Smokers have brought this on themselves. Most of them are dirty pigs when it comes to where they put their ashes and cigarette butts." hangjbat

=============================

hangjbat, I ran the mile in high school 1965-67. I joined the army to get Viet Nam over that summer. Obviously I never smoked before the army.

In basic, we were given free cigarettes with our meals. When we took a 10 minute break, it was "Light 'em up or pick 'em up". What they meant was that we could either smoke or pick up the butts from the last group. I started smoking.

During my entire smoking life between 1967 and 2008, I field stipped my cigarette and put the butt in my pocket. I've seen other veterans do the same thing.

It is possible to be a smoker and not be, according to you, a "dirty pig". When I went backpacking, I left the forest cleaner than when I arrived. I never allowed a hot amber to hit the ground.

If you asked 10,000 cigarette smokers if they would like to quit because of health concerns and all the harassment, I suspect 90% would - if they could receive prescriptions for smoking cessation medications and pay a co-pay just like women pay co-pay for their hormone replacement medications.

Ooops. Did I just sound like a dirty pig?

Posted by: cibor | July 28, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Ken_Davis 1 Wrote:
That one random puff of smoke is going to destroy your lung capacity for life.

Oh, the horror!!!
---------------------------------
Yes it is horrible and I do worry that all of the random puffs of smoke I encounter, (do you really think it only happens once in a lifetime?)will have an effect on my health. Look up the statistics on second hand smoke. When I take the Fairfax Connector, many times there is a smoker who stands under the shelter. If you want to smoke that is your right. But it is also my right not to smoke. And I should not be the one to stand in the rain.

Posted by: ctree | July 28, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, but this restriction is ridiculous. You're walking or standing along a road where buses run, which means you're inhaling gallons of toxic exhaust, but one puff of cigarette smoke is going to shrivel your lungs?! Please. This is about nothing more than feeling superior to nicotine addicts. Get a life.

Posted by: csdiego | July 28, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

csdiego, you raise an excellent point.

Everyone says cigarettes are so addictive, it's harder than getting off hard drugs. Cigarette smokers, though, have less rights than drug addicts who receive medical care to get clean.

Who pays for methadone clinics? local, state and federal government

Why pays for medication to stop cigarette use? Only the addict.

I once thought smokers should be considered Disabled since they are addicts. But reality check: the anti-smoking Nazi's would scream bloody murder at the thought of public funds paying to help a "dirty pig" smoker quit.

And yes, the pollution caused by other sources far exceeds the threat to health, but you can't stop the bus from running, can you? You can't stop people from driving. You can't stop people from consumer electricity generated by coal-fueled power plants.

Smokers are an easy target. You can discriminate against them, insult them, pass laws to make their lives miserable, and tax the crap out of them! Even our president smokes, and, I suspect, he stinks up Air Force One!

Posted by: cibor | July 28, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

csdiego, you raise an excellent point.

Everyone says cigarettes are so addictive, it's harder than getting off hard drugs. Cigarette smokers, though, have less rights than drug addicts who receive medical care to get clean.

Who pays for methadone clinics? local, state and federal government

Why pays for medication to stop cigarette use? Only the addict.

I once thought smokers should be considered Disabled since they are addicts. But reality check: the anti-smoking Nazi's would scream bloody murder at the thought of public funds paying to help a "dirty pig" smoker quit.

And yes, the pollution caused by other sources far exceeds the threat to health, but you can't stop the bus from running, can you? You can't stop people from driving. You can't stop people from consumer electricity generated by coal-fueled power plants.

Smokers are an easy target. You can discriminate against them, insult them, pass laws to make their lives miserable, and tax the crap out of them! Even our president smokes, and, I suspect, he stinks up Air Force One!

Posted by: cibor | July 28, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of the Simpson's episode where Homer plasters signs all over Springfield for the safety of all the people, but Springfield became ugly as a result.

I hope they allow smoking pot in the shelters.

Posted by: johng1 | July 28, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

My father smoked 50 years, then had a stroke that scared him off the cigarettes. Thank goodness. It was so hard to be nearby him despite loving him.

I developed asthma and not only cigarette smoke, but perfumes and other chemical odors set off reactions in my body. So one second of cigarette smoke does affect me, yes, and turns me into an anti-smoker type.

At one Tysons Corner entrance from a parking garage ramp, they put up signs not to smoke next to the entrance. Result is the smokers now collect by the elevator and people, including lots of children, must run this new smoking gauntlet. So now I glare as I cover my nose and mouth while passing, which makes me look peculiar.

I'd favor paying for cessation of smoking programs because they'd help the smoker directly and those affected by the smoke indirectly.

But I favor any action that prevents a nonsmoker who is affected by cigarette smoke from coming into contact with a smoker, no matter what the location.

Posted by: MKW22201 | July 28, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

hangjibat wrote:

You can't tell me their car has no ashtray

************************************

As a result of the anti-smoking voice, manufacturers have not put ash trays in cars for years! I have one I bought that hangs on the A/C grill, but they are hard to find so I'm sure many don't have them.

But even if butts are thrown in the street, it can't pollute more than the car emissions that are on the streets. Don't get me wrong. I hate to see butts on the ground, but know what you are talking about before spouting off.

Posted by: Wait-a-Minute | July 28, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Bravo to Fairfax County. The only thing worse than waiting in a bus shelter on a hot summer day is waiting in a sweltering, cigarette smoke-filled shelter. I don't want to walk around stinking like smoke --especially when it's hot.

Posted by: darlingnikkitoo | July 28, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Just how often are precious lungs being scorched by cigarette smoke, anyway? I've done my time in bus shelters, not every day but at least twice a week for the past several years. I can't remember ever being forced to breathe cigarette smoke. I still say it's a nonissue except that some people enjoy squealing "Cooties!" when the evil cig comes up in conversation.

Posted by: csdiego | July 28, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone ever taken a good look at these smokers in their smoking areas (huts)? What a sickly looking bunch!

Posted by: unseenmirage | July 28, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Watch out the next place these Nazis will hit is your house. They cry about freedom but want to take away yours. These Nazis cry about the smokers but I'm willing to bet they are the same ones who want marijuana made legal. They probably use it. I don't remember big rallies against this product that also involves second hand smoke. Are you going to lock up these folks who are "taking" their "medicine"?

Posted by: SGMWinstead | July 28, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: brownhall24 | July 29, 2010 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Obviously none of the comments so have been from people with asthma or family members with asthma. It only takes a tiny bit of second hand smoke to send some of us asthma sufferers into a full blown attack. Just because it is only "a little smoke" doesn't mean it only has a "little effect". Which is more important, your right to exhale toxins or my right to breathe?

Posted by: PAK1 | July 29, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

PAK1, if you're waiting for a bus you're already inhaling carbon monoxide and lots of other pollutants in every lungful of car exhaust. I don't like it either, and I want cars and buses to pollute less. But you can't tell me a whiff of cigarette smoke is going to make a difference in that setting.

Posted by: csdiego | July 29, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

A good alternative to smoking might be the Electronic cigarette. This device feels just like a cigarette and yet only contains 16 chemicals, contrary to the 4000 chemicals in regular cigarettes.
Nevertheless, it's much much cheaper. I gave it to my father on his birthday and since then he saves around a hundred Dollars each month. He tells me its great that he can decide on his own how much nicotine he inhales (the cartridges come in 0-16 mg nic.).
My mum also loves it, because the "smoke" is mainly composed of water-vapor, so now she doesent need to send my dad outside each time he wants to smoke, haha. You can check them out on www.greensmoke.com/disc10-18621 , this link contains a 10% discount.
There is an upfront cost for the starters kit, but the cartridges are more than 50% cheaper than cigarettes, so in the end you'll only save money. Try it, I cant see how you'll be disappointed. Furthermore, they offer every customer a 30 day money back guarantee, meaning if you dont like it you can return it without having to pay any cost.

Posted by: Linda78 | July 29, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

My mom smoked for 50 years and used to start every day with a fit of coughing. Someone told me about electronic cigarettes, so I ordered her one. She loves it. It's different from tobacco as there's no tar, no carbon monoxide and doesn't have all the yucky stuff in it like cigs do. She's been able to get away from tobacco and is now breathing much better. If you want to check it out, go to: http://CleanGreenNicotine.com . They have more info on it. Highly recommended!

Posted by: qaz668 | July 29, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

They have created a fear out of NOTHING......

There are about a hundred studies on (passive smoking and lung cancer)… 40% claim a total absence of harmful effects. The remaining 60% estimate that the cancer risk is multiplied by 0.02 for the most optimistic and by 0.15 for the more pessimistic … Clearly, the harm is either nonexistent, or it is extremely low. ...

(Heart disease) the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done…. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor ... but not greater than pollen! ...

The 2002 report says that serious health risks are now proven, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It's everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything. ...

The anti-smoking campaigns and higher cigarette prices having failed, they had to find a new way to lower the number of smokers. By waving the threat of passive smoking, they found a tool that really works: social pressure. In good faith, non-smokers felt in danger and started to stand up against smokers. ..."

http://cagecanada.homestead.com/InterviewWithPrEven.html

--


Posted by: harleyrider1978 | July 30, 2010 4:53 AM | Report abuse

Those bus shelters are too small to accommodate smokers and non-smokers. If someone wants to smoke while waiting for a bus, they should leave the shelter and do it outside. Otherwise the shelter traps a lot of their smoke and everybody waiting gets to experience that. It sucks that the county has to actually create and enforce a law for this. It should be common sense. If you want to smoke, go outside!

Posted by: lmjs63 | July 30, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Those bus shelters are too small to accommodate smokers and non-smokers. If someone wants to smoke while waiting for a bus, they should leave the shelter and do it outside. Otherwise the shelter traps a lot of their smoke and everybody waiting gets to experience that. It sucks that the county has to actually create and enforce a law for this. It should be common sense. If you want to smoke, go outside!

Posted by: lmjs63 | July 30, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

If you want to smoke while waiting for a bus, you should not do it inside a bus shelter where others are waiting. If there is no shelter, you should remove yourself away from others. Its common sense and common courtesy. There should be no need for a law. But not everybody has the sense to be courteous.

Posted by: lmjs63 | July 30, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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