Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Smoking at home and in public places: the state of the issue in DC

I am so glad that no one on our block smokes.  I hate the smell, not to mention the impact on public health (The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General).

Like the people in my old neighborhood recently featured in a Post story ("DC neighbors' sparring over secondhand smoke lands in court"), who sued their next door neighbors because tobacco smoke leaks into their house through the party wall, I would go crazy if I lived in a similar situation.

(On the other hand, you have to do due diligence when you're looking for a house to buy and people sensitive to smoke ought to be able to smell it when they're checking out a house.)

"Smoke Free Zone" notice in a bus shelter in Boise, Idaho. In Boise, smoking is banned in a 25 feet zone around bus shelters.

I agree with the plaintiffs in the legal case that one's "right" to smoke ends at the point where others are subjected to the smoke and that it is the responsibility of the smokers to ensure that others are negatively impacted.

Related to this, in a number of communities, there have been efforts to ban smoking in apartment buildings.

It is also an issue in public housing buildings, where there is increased attention being paid to this issue.

There have also been increasing efforts to ban smoking in various public places.  I wrote about these various issues a couple years ago ("Cigarette smoking and public space."

I especially hate smelling smoke around Metro stations (this is a problem at the Takoma Station) and bus stops.  I'll walk to the next bus stop in the face of a rider smoking while waiting for the bus, but that isn't possible at a Metro station.

The Community Wellness Alliance is calling our attention to the existence of "new" DC laws concerning smoking in public, which were passed in 2013 as part of the Smoking Restriction Amendment Act.

The law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of DC maintained facilities including dog parks, community swimming pools, playgrounds, parks, trails, Metro stations and bus stops.

It would help to begin posting notices at bus stops...  and on the Metropolitan Branch Trail!!!!
It bugs me that people smoke on the trail, when I am cycling.

Impacts of marijuana legalization on public policy concerning vapors and smells related to "smoking."  While the DC regulations concerning legalization of marijuana restrict use to the home, likely this particular law will need to be modified to extend restrictions to marijuana.  The law is written only concerning tobacco.

For example, according to the Post article, one of the owners of the house causing the problems expresses incredulity in that now it is legal to smoke marijuana at home as well, but her brother's cigarette smoking is restricted.

The legalization of marijuana use will create similar problems for some residents. Frequent marijuana use can stink up a place quite a bit and in dense living situations that creates nuisances for other people. (I remember this problem well on my floor in my college dormitory--back then anyway, in Ann Arbor, marijuana use was decriminalized, still illegal, but only subject to a ticket and fines and was mostly unenforced.)

Note that e-cigarettes can create similar issues in some communities, because of how anti-smoking regulations were written in those places.  I don't think that DC's law could be construed as not pertaining to e-cigarettes.

Smoking Restriction Amendment Act Summit.  The Community Wellness Alliance is sponsoring a workshop on the DC law and regulations on Saturday, April 18th from 11:00am to 2:00pm at Raymond Recreation Center (3725 10th Street, NW).

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At 12:48 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

Givent that there is no legal market for M-product, extending anti-smoking effectively bars multi-unit residents from weed.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

it definitely opens up tough issues. My partner likes the smell of M more than I do. I don't have much recent experience of being exposed to frequent use and reeking in the way that I did on my floor in the dorm back in the day.

It's tough with owned buildings, but I suppose with apartments, you could build some sections that are designed for the use, in the way that apartment buildings are creating certain sections appropriate for pets, but not necessarily the whole building.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

Off topic, but of interest:

Well, I just find it amusing. It drives culture warriors crazy. Just as someone Congress picked the wrong language in banning the referendum, but we shouldn't pay attention to that with obamacare. Granted, there are some very technical legal differences there.

The the idea that smoking cigarettes is bad, but smoking dope is ok is fairly crazy.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

urgh. the lisc thing is interesting. neoliberalism and funders.

2. wrt "drugs" I am weird in that my attitude is libertarian. But I don't believe in using drugs myself or hanging out with people who do.

There was an article, maybe in the WSJ or the NYT, about drug addiction being a problem for seniors. As baby boomers age, they may become addicts, and this changes the service profile needs for rehab centers, etc.

anyway, I hate smoking because it smells (and because my biological mother smoked) and I suppose because of the cost to society. but mostly, I don't want to smell it.

with MJ and other drugs, there is no question that there are negative health impacts for many (excepting the medicinal use elements of MJ) and that supporting drug use isn't a good thing, which a libertarian attitude does. OTOH, interdiction and criminalization isn't working well either, and I'd rather we use the monies we spend on the drug war for poverty alleviation, rehab, etc.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

If I read Congress correctly -- and it is tough -- I suspect the DC Council is prohibited from adding MJ to the antismoking bill.

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

"the conflict of laws"

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of smoking as the Native Americans' revenge on the white man. Recovery professionals refer to it as covert suicide. It's definitely an addiction and has gotten much more potent (just like marijuana) over the years. My guess is that the yearly costs to deal with the side effects run into the billions.


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