Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


If you can smell your neighbor's cigarette smoke, it could cost them $750.
November 20, 2001 8:47 PM   Subscribe

If you can smell your neighbor's cigarette smoke, it could cost them $750.
Man, talk about being conflicted.
posted by NortonDC (228 comments total)

 
If this is not saying "Smoking is bad and you can kill yourself doing it, just don't let it affect anyone else." In effect, all these laws say is that tobacco is a drug and kills people (again). Of course, tobacco won't be outlawed any time i'm alive, so its a moot point.
But council member Michael L. Subin (D-At Large) argued that the legislation was class biased.
This raises the point: if some kind of law indirectly affects a non-special status group of people (like african-americans, i forget the legal term), should the law be dropped? There's probably already an answer to this I don't know, but oh well.
posted by jmd82 at 9:22 PM on November 20, 2001


hmm, i dunno. one might argue that loitering laws are class-biased, but are those dropped for that reason?
posted by moz at 9:24 PM on November 20, 2001


When I lived in LA, the weather was always perfect, but I hated the fact that my neighbors to both sides of me smoked. That meant if I opened up my windows (it was a breezy 72 degrees outside almost every day of the year), every hour or so one of them would go out on their balcony and smoke about 2 feet from my open windows.

I almost moved because of the constant stink.

I've been able to enjoy a smoke-free apartment for the past year or so, until last month when a new neighbor moved in downstairs, and began smoking like a chimney. I can't leave windows open, even just a crack, at night now.

Although I'd love it if this was law where I live, this ruling is too strict. What about people that go out into their backyards to smoke? There's nothing to confine the smoke to their property there.
posted by mathowie at 9:39 PM on November 20, 2001


Take up electric guitar and cut a few licks with the amp about as loud as you can stand every time your neighbor smokes. But would they get the connection?
posted by spslsausse at 9:48 PM on November 20, 2001


This is great! I don't have a problem with people smoking, as long as I don't have to smoke along with them. I feel like every time I walk through a cloud of smoke (or if it comes into my apartment), it is a violation of my basic right to breathe non-polluted air.

Everyone should be free to do whatever they want unless it directly infringes on others' freedoms.
posted by hitsman at 10:02 PM on November 20, 2001


Wait, spslsauce, the ACLU would argue thats class-biased b/c poor people live close together so they'll hear your music and rich people who live far away wouldn't hear the music. Er, i mean the ACLU would argue that not allowing you to play the guitar is a 1st ammendment issue...
posted by jmd82 at 10:05 PM on November 20, 2001


There has to be a connection between the mental defect which results in people smoking cigarettes, and the one which makes so many people so indifferent and incapable of understanding my right to not have their smoke in my apartment. I LOVE THIS LAW.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:14 PM on November 20, 2001


As someone who hates smoking and is originally from the Montgomery County in question, this is a stupid decision. I understand the gripes, but infringing on someone's right to engage in a specific behavior on property they own is outta line.

I also think the laws banning smoke in a bar/restaurant go to far, it should be up to the individual property owner.
posted by owillis at 10:15 PM on November 20, 2001


There also has to be a mental defect with those COgressmen who are unwilling to outlaw tocacco as a drug even though many agencies and branches of the call it a drug in other words. oh, wait, that defect is money.
posted by jmd82 at 10:20 PM on November 20, 2001


This is great! I don't have a problem with people smoking, as long as I don't have to smoke along with them. I feel like every time I walk through a cloud of smoke (or if it comes into my apartment), it is a violation of my basic right to breathe non-polluted air.


Fine. Don't drive a car. Don't live in a city. Don't live anywhere near basic manufacturing. Don't put up with sewage treatment gas release. Closed treatment only, please. Don't get anywhere near co-workers who might have a common cold (that's viral pollution you know. They're infringing on your right to liberty from the enslavement by sickness).

I almost moved because of the constant stink.

Give me a break. Are we talking about health concerns or a percieved asthetic? Is anyone gonna' fine that fat witch I work with who wears a gallon of perfume everyday? I think not. Does it make me want to hurl? Does it give me headache? Yes to both. If it were the scent of jasmine or fine sencsimilia that were invading your "rights", would you kevetch? I'm not convinced.

Most health plans in action will gladly cover your lung cancer, but they charge you more if you smoke. Most health plans will help cure you off'n the crack cocaine, but bitch a fit if you try to claim Ziban. Forget the class based (read race based) crap. This is about addiction and the public attitude towards it. We're fine letting people eat themselves into obesity, but let some asshole get addicted to the second most addictive substance known to human kind, and its just a matter of whether they affect "us" or not. That's crap. Fine treat it as the addictive substance it is. Outlaw it, and (financially) help those of us who are addicted quit.. And don't be surprised when urban cancer rates don't go down do to the cars you'all keep driven'. Who are you gonna' blame then?
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:36 PM on November 20, 2001


owillis, I couldn't agree more. But governments cant allow people bitchen' now can they? That wouldn't be electable.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:43 PM on November 20, 2001


There has to be a connection between the mental defect which results in people smoking cigarettes

Stupidly put. Don't have clue about it, do you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:47 PM on November 20, 2001


Fine. Don't drive a car. Don't live in a city. Don't live anywhere near basic manufacturing. Don't put up with sewage treatment gas release. Closed treatment only, please. Don't get anywhere near co-workers who might have a common cold (that's viral pollution you know. They're infringing on your right to liberty from the enslavement by sickness).

Actually, none of the things you mention bother me as much as having to breathe cigarette smoke. They might be long-term harmful, but I don't really mind dying from something that doesn't cause me the direct displeasure that breathing smoke does.

If someone knowingly sick with a cold comes and coughs in my face, I think we'd be talking about the equivalent of someone smoking in your space... and I think both are a violation.
posted by hitsman at 10:53 PM on November 20, 2001


what about cigar/pipe smoke? what about incense for religious reasons? what about cooking with onions? what about pot smoke?
posted by panopticon at 10:59 PM on November 20, 2001


Actually, none of the things you mention bother me as much as having to breathe cigarette smoke.

So we're talking about legislating an asthetic then?
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:00 PM on November 20, 2001


Thanks Wulf
Why are anti-smokers so DULL
posted by johnny7 at 11:12 PM on November 20, 2001


Technically, we could be talking about the release of an addictive drug (nicotene) into the air and, subsequently, introducing it into the bodies of people who do not voluntarily consume said drug.

I don't want cigarette smoke wafting into my house any more than I want pot smoke, or high concentrations of carbon monoxide, radon, or sewage gasses wafting into my house. I feel that I have the right to determine which chemicals violate my airspace.
posted by Danelope at 11:19 PM on November 20, 2001


So we're talking about legislating an asthetic then?

No, we're talking about legislating against people's actions directly harming others physically.

People can smoke all they want. They are responsible for containing their smoke to their own property. Otherwise, it's air pollution, and it should be regulated as such.
posted by hitsman at 11:19 PM on November 20, 2001


If you can smell your neighbor's cigarette smoke, it could cost them $750.

and rightfully so. I'm going to assume this law applies to apartment complexes for the most part. If your habit was that bad in house, you'd probably already be dead.
posted by howa2396 at 11:20 PM on November 20, 2001


What state is this in? Montgomery County, Alabama? or Washington State?
posted by pooldemon at 11:26 PM on November 20, 2001


No, we're talking about legislating against people's actions directly harming others physically.

Excellent. A true starting point. Prove the harm. (Without crying stinkyness, please). Also please take into account the air pollution caused within urban environ's by 1) energy production, 2) transportation, 3) sewage treatment, 4) the factors unknown. (Hey, dude, it's your theory of harm, not mine.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:27 PM on November 20, 2001


If you want to smoke, please do it with a plastic bag over your head so that all of your pollution finds its way into YOU, not me. Thank you.
posted by rushmc at 11:30 PM on November 20, 2001


I feel that I have the right to determine which chemicals violate my airspace.

Sadly, I agree with you. But would you cotton to fining those who own a house which leaks Radon? Are you in favor of severe Carbon Monoxide restrictions (fine enforced) for your neighbors auto (as well as your own, presumably)? What is so differenty about cigarette smoke that you think it should hold a special place in your revulsion index?
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:32 PM on November 20, 2001


If you want to smoke, please do it with a plastic bag over your head so that all of your pollution finds its way into YOU, not me. Thank you.

If you want to release Carbon Monoxide, please do so with a bag over your exhaust pipe so that all your exhaust halts YOU, not me. Thank you.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:34 PM on November 20, 2001


Excellent. A true starting point. Prove the harm.

I think the burden of proof is yours, Wulfgar. The Surgeon General of the United States (along with countless independent parties) has carried out extensive studies for decades providing well-documented proof that A) nicotene is addictive and B) inhaling cigarette smoke is detrimental to human health. This law effectively counters a smoker's supposed right to impose their carcinogenic, drug-laden cloud on third parties.

But would you cotton to fining those who own a house which leaks Radon? Are you in favor of severe Carbon Monoxide restrictions (fine enforced) for your neighbors auto (as well as your own, presumably)?

I'm fairly certain that the US already has laws in place that govern hazardous materials like radon and requirements for the exhaust systems of cars. [And, as an aside, I don't own a car, so feel free to crack down on my carbon monoxide emissions. :)]
posted by Danelope at 11:39 PM on November 20, 2001


Excellent. A true starting point. Prove the harm. (Without crying stinkyness, please). Also please take into account the air pollution caused within urban environ's by 1) energy production, 2) transportation, 3) sewage treatment, 4) the factors unknown. (Hey, dude, it's your theory of harm, not mine.)

I have no issues against taxing any of the externalities you mention. I think the health harm of second hand smoke has been proven. Additionally, there's a discomfort harm that is not that different from noise pollution. It makes me physically uncomfortable to inhale smoke. Not just the smell. It clogs my sinuses, makes it hard to breathe, etc. It's not just me either with a special sensitivity problem.

I liken it to someone coming over to me and farting in my face. Over and over. It's a form of harassment to be continuously subjected to it without consent.

It's illegal to copulate in public. Does that make sense? Maybe a different thread. In either case, I think it's your duty to keep your actions to yourself. Once you're inside, I don't care what you do. It's your property, your right. You have no right to engage in any action that infringes on me on my property.
posted by hitsman at 11:44 PM on November 20, 2001


But would you cotton to fining those who own a house which leaks Radon? Are you in favor of severe Carbon Monoxide restrictions (fine enforced) for your neighbors auto (as well as your own, presumably)?

I sure would be fine with that. I'd be happy to pay a fine that allowed me to pollute your air at a certain level, and I'd be happier if those payments went directly to you as a victim of my actions.
posted by hitsman at 11:46 PM on November 20, 2001


Lets face it, folks. We're headed to one innevitable conclusion. You all think that smokers CHOOSE to smoke, with complete disregard for "your" oh so important feelings. That's bullshit. Most of the smokers I know are terribly sensitive to "your" wishes, but you'all couldn't care less about their addiction because you don't share it. Your post modern sensibilties convince you that we're all just doing it to spite you (as many of you obviously wish to do to us with your fines and your self-rightious derision). ITS AN ADDICTION, KIDS. Get used to it, and do something about it. If my insurance would do something other than penalize me for smoking, (like help me kick the addiction I've had for 26 years) you might not have to put up with my "habit". Get off your high fucking horses and deal with it as it is, an addiction.

You want to fine my ass because my smoking inconveniences you? At least be honest about what you are and what you believe.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:47 PM on November 20, 2001


Well, if you want to play the game that way....

TOUGH SHIT, SMOKERS! You are addicted to cigarettes because you made the conscious decision to partake of a substance which you were endlessly forewarned was addictive and hazardous to your health. Do not attempt to pin the consequences of your own deliberate actions on anyone else. Do not expect sympathy or money for having addicted yourself to nicotene. Accept responsibility for your own actions. Do not force others to partake of the habit which you apparently hate but refuse to cease.

Same to you, alcoholics, heroin addicts, et al.
posted by Danelope at 11:53 PM on November 20, 2001


I think the health harm of second hand smoke has been proven.

I'm fairly certain that the US already has laws in place that govern hazardous materials like radon and requirements for the exhaust systems of cars.

Nice claims from the cult of common knowledge. Care to prove?

I think the burden of proof is yours, Wulfgar.

Your claiming its okay to fine me. How the hell is it my burden of proof? You can't prove a negative. That's lazy on your part, and insultingly arrogant besides.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:56 PM on November 20, 2001


TOUGH SHIT, SMOKERS!

Get your time frame, right, Cuz. Many of us were warned only cursory, and wasn't there a thread just recently on MeFi about recreational drug use on the weekends? What are you addicted to? You obviously don't understand that this isn't a game. It about understanding and help. Care to join in, or would you like to keep asserting power you ain't got?
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:01 AM on November 21, 2001


My grandfather smoked for about 50 years and quit cold turkey. Don't tell me you can't. You won't.
posted by hitsman at 12:08 AM on November 21, 2001


Also, just so you understand that I'm not against smoking, know this:

I would vote to repeal all the excessive sin taxes on cigarettes under the following conditions:

1) Laws like the one in Montgomery Co., MD were universal. That way we could fine the smokers who were really harming others and leave the rest alone to enjoy their private fix.

2) Enforce fines against people who lied on their health insurance about not smoking. I want to make sure than any health care costs that come out of my pocket due to smoking are paid for by the people who smoke.
posted by hitsman at 12:11 AM on November 21, 2001


My grandfather smoked for about 50 years and quit cold turkey. Don't tell me you can't. You won't.

You ever do it? Your grandfather isn't involved in this debate. You are. Don't tell me what I can't do, unless you're willing to tell what you will give up. (truth, dude, you don't even know whether I smoke or not for real. I could just be yanking your self-rightious chain).

Who the fuck are you to be telling anyone else what they should or shouldn't (can or can't) do? What gives you the right?
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:14 AM on November 21, 2001


Many of us were warned only cursory
You mean aside from the forboding warning on every single pack of cigarettes you've purchased in this country? And every conclusive study that came down the pipes? And the hundreds of thousands of people who have died agonizing deaths as a result of smoking?

You obviously don't understand that this isn't a game.

You obviously suffer from the delusion that someone other than yourself is responsible for your addiction to nicotene, and that my time and money should be spent trying to free you of these self-imposed shackles.

This is not about understanding or help. This is about refusing to accept responsibility for your own actions and the consequences thereof. You alone are the cause of your addiction and, therefore, I wholeheartedly refuse to "join in".
posted by Danelope at 12:15 AM on November 21, 2001


I feel that I have the right to determine which chemicals violate my airspace.

Can you define "my airspace"? The airspace inside your walls? Any air you happen to inhale? I'm not sure anyone can possess airspace. The air quality is part of the environment we choose to live in. I don't own a car and I don't like carbon monoxide. I could move to a less urban place with not so much auto pollution poring through my windows and screwing my bike ride, but then I probably couldn't find as many cool bars to smoke in.
posted by liam at 12:17 AM on November 21, 2001


I want to make sure than any health care costs that come out of my pocket due to smoking are paid for by the people who smoke.

My personal feeling, regardless of whether I'm a smoker or not, is that tobacco companies should be responsable for the health care costs related to smoking. They should be responsable for costs associated with curative efforts (which was the basis behind the multi-state lawsuit against them). Sadly many states are using the settlement money to pad their ifrastructure budgets, and running lame anti-smoking info-mercials as a salve to public consciousness.

As for assessing fiscal responsability based on need, I would sincerly like to know why (as a member of a rural community) my energy costs are based on the needs of California. I would like to know why my water is being assessed according to the needs of those downriver. See the parallel to your "smoking" concerns? You cost me more than I do you.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:26 AM on November 21, 2001


It never ceases to amaze me that our society is willing to rehabilitate murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals at great taxpayer expense. Yet when the topic of substance abuse rehabilitation comes up, people go berserk.

Lets face it. When it comes to tobacco... it's all about the dollar bill. Farmers grow it and make a buck, tobacco companies process it and sell it to distributors and make a buck, distributors sell it to retailers and make a buck, the state and fed gov't extract taxes and make a buck, why not support the creative endeavors of lawyers trying yet another angle to make a buck?

After all our economy wasn't built upon tolerance and compromise. It was built upon the desire to make a buck. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect patience and understanding for addictive behavior. If it is unreasonable to expect understanding, then it is outrageous to expect tolerance. If it is outrageous to expect tolerance, then it is quite simply unthinkable to expect assistance.

It is with this attitude that we will see the day where people are kicked out of their health insurance plans for blowing a cholesterol test.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 12:27 AM on November 21, 2001


Who the fuck are you to be telling anyone else what they should or shouldn't (can or can't) do? What gives you the right?

I bought that right when I bought my property. I have a right to tell everyone what they can and can't do on it, including smoke. The gov't should protect my property rights, and I'm very happy to see that they are starting to in Maryland.
posted by hitsman at 12:28 AM on November 21, 2001


You mean aside from the forboding warning on every single pack of cigarettes you've purchased in this country?

Since the year (you fill in the blank, hotshot)?
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:29 AM on November 21, 2001


I hate second hand smoke with a passion. It is possibly the thing in this word that I am least rational about. My heart applauds this law and my brain chastises it for being irrational.

Wulfgar!: On the assumption that you smoke (because either of us discussing the issue of tobacco addiction is pointless if you don't smoke), why did you start? When you puffed your first cigarette and coughed and hacked, why did you smoke a second one?

More to the point, do you want to quit? What would it take for you to quit? I fully agree with you insurance companies and the government are short sighted in their unwillingness to treat tobacco addiction while being willing to treat lung cancer. I would love to find someway to convince people that their lives would be better if they stopped smoking and then help them stop.

Does the advice here help at all? Is there anything anyone here can do to help you?
posted by chiheisen at 12:29 AM on November 21, 2001


My personal feeling, regardless of whether I'm a smoker or not, is that tobacco companies should be responsable for the health care costs related to smoking.

And companies who produce alcohol should be held responsible for alcoholic treatment. And companies who produce fatty foods should be held responsible for the treatment of obesity, heart disease, and high cholesterol. And the Coca-Cola corporation should be held responsible because a drunken moron tipped a Coke machine over onto himself and died while trying to steal Coke. McDonald's should pay millions of dollars in reparations to people who spill hot coffee on themselves.

Disavowal of personal accountability is America's greatest untapped resource. If only someone could develop a solid business model for buck-passing...
posted by Danelope at 12:36 AM on November 21, 2001


Since the year (you fill in the blank, hotshot)?

From The University of Rochester: "Smoking is a good example of that, he says. Since the first Surgeon General's warning in 1964, the percentage of Americans who smoke has declined steadily from 43 percent of the population..."

You claim you've been smoking for 26 years? That means you started around 1975, more than ten years after the mandatory Surgeon General's Warning. Hence, you've been warned since the very first time you smoked.
posted by Danelope at 12:43 AM on November 21, 2001


Danelope, I'm sorry I'll have to correct you on that. Your last sentence should have read:
"Hence, you've been warned since the very first time you smoked, hotshot."
posted by hitsman at 12:46 AM on November 21, 2001


I can't wait for the first person to be arrested for farting in an elevator. Will it be assault? Or will it come under the EPA's jurisdiction? Farts can kill. Would the offender do community service in a sewage treatment plant?
posted by pracowity at 12:46 AM on November 21, 2001


I can't wait for the first person to be arrested for farting in an elevator.

I think laws should allow for reasonable occasional human accidents. I would be in favor of the law allowing for a warning first before fining an offensive smoker.

However, if you constantly are running around deliberately farting near people when you know it is bothering others and you can be more discreet, I think you should be accountable. It doesn't really matter to me what the form of harassment is. Don't fart on me. Don't smoke on me. Don't show me your penis. Keep it to yourself, thanks.
posted by hitsman at 12:53 AM on November 21, 2001


Wulfgar!: On the assumption that you smoke (because either of us discussing the issue of tobacco addiction is pointless if you don't smoke), why did you start? When you puffed your first cigarette and coughed and hacked, why did you smoke a second one?

Though I detest giving factual personal data over TCP/IP, the fact is, yes, I smoke. I began when I was 12. It doesn't really matter why I started, (I probably don't really know) because once you start its very hard to quit, especially for a braindead yo'un who doesn't quite get the whole mortality thing. My parents smoked. My grandparents smoked. Most of my aunts and uncles smoke.

Do I want to quit? Yes. I've tried and I am unbearable to be around when I do. I am a heavy smoker, nothing light about it. I know I'm an addict, but that doesn't help. I am very polite about NOT subjecting non-smokers to my addiction, but that doesn't matter. I'm evil (and now provably criminal) because I do something that others don't like. Hell, I'm chain smokin' while writing this because I'm uptight about the rightious drivel I've read in this thread. I know that my life would be better if I quit smoking, as much as I know that many of my friends lives would be better if they'd quit snow-boarding. But snow-boarding is celebrated, and non-smelly.

I don't know what it will take for me to quit smoking. I have friends who've tried Zyban and had good success, but I can't get my insurance company to admit that they should pay for it. They'll pay for Prozak for my co-workers while I try to do the cold-turkey thing, but they won't pay to help me shake this shit. Yes, of course there will be those MeFites who sit back and point their rightious anonymous fingers claiming that their fifteenth uncle, twice removed smoked twenty packs a day for 150 years and quit cold turkey. I don't give a fuck. What I believe about this country is that we have the right to jump out of perfectly good airplanes, we have the right to jump off of bridges attached only to a rubber strand, and we have the right to not be persecuted while we try and grapple with an addiction.

The thing I need most to quit smoking is the non-judgemental understanding of those around me. "I told you so" and "I'm going to make you do what's right" just makes me want to smoke more and really piss off those who think they have more claim to the good in life than I do.

Thank you for caring enough to ask the right questions, chiheisen.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:03 AM on November 21, 2001


Danelope: There is still no list of what cigarettes actually contain - unlike in regular food or pharmaceutical/drug products - or a warning about the possibility of permanent lung damage, etc. (Heck, I saw a list of ingredients on freakin' unsalted peanuts. Why not cigarettes?) The Surgeon General's warning was long used as a shield by tobacco companies. The era seems to be passing, and said passing is a just thing.
posted by raysmj at 1:13 AM on November 21, 2001


> It doesn't really matter to me what the form of
> harassment is. Don't fart on me. Don't smoke on me.
> Don't show me your penis. Keep it to yourself, thanks.

How about perfume? I really don't like the smell of perfume.
posted by pracowity at 1:15 AM on November 21, 2001


Make that: the possibility of permanent damage no matter how long, or how much, you've smoked.
posted by raysmj at 1:15 AM on November 21, 2001


This discussion has for the most part been pretty enlightened - I guess because many of you are in the US. It would be nigh on impossible to have this debate in London, England, where it feels like 80% of people smoke. My next-door neighbour smokes and it does cause annoyance - the smell comes through the windows, through the ventilation in the bathrooms etc... and it means that in the summer I can't open the windows. When her husband came round one day to complain about noise levels from my flat, I said: "what about the smoke levels coming from yours?" No complaints since then - a balance of sorts, I suppose.

But in London we really need some indoor clean air laws. I can't stay long at nightclubs or bars because of the air quality and when I return all my clothes stink. It's not a fucking human right to smoke and make everyone else's clothes smell. At the very least I'd like to see laws requiring venues to install heavy-duty air conditioning. Otherwise laws requiring non-smoking areas in all venues. The ideal would be to have a ban on smoking in public places, but given the popularity of smoking in England, I don't see it happening any time in the next 20 years.
posted by skylar at 1:17 AM on November 21, 2001


That means you started around 1975, more than ten years after the mandatory Surgeon General's Warning. Hence, you've been warned since the very first time you smoked.

Actually it was in 1974. Not many twelve year olds read releases from the surgeon general. And when were warnings placed on cigarette packs? Hhuhhmm?

It doesn't really matter to me what the form of harassment is.

And there's the rub, now isn't it? Whatever you concider harrassment should be prosecutable. I applaud your sense of the good. Lets hope it serves us all, as well as yourself.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:19 AM on November 21, 2001


You want to fine my ass because my smoking inconveniences you? At least be honest about what you are and what you believe.

Hello? Who was the one who got addicted in the first place? And, consider this, would you have climbed up on people's roofs and inhaled the smoke from their chimneys? I think not. One makes about as much sense as the other. Sadly, most people in the US LACK common sense, and I include all smokers in this category.

And understand this, the US Surgeon General's warning is lackluster at most - it's tiny, it says maybe. Look at international warnings on cigarettes. Here's a Hong Kong example. WARNING: SMOKING KILLS. It's on EVERY billboard in BIG letters, it's on EVERY pack on cigarettes in a prominent place. Smoking kills, second-hand smoking hurts, smoking is annoying for those around it. Get your smoke out of my air.

Prove the harm... Also please take into account the air pollution caused within urban environ's by 1) energy production, 2) transportation, 3) sewage treatment, 4) the factors unknown. (Hey, dude, it's your theory of harm, not mine.)

I have zero problems with stricter regulations on pollution even if it adversely affects my life. My children would like to be able to breathe on their own when they're born.
posted by pooldemon at 1:19 AM on November 21, 2001


raysmj: What more incentive would a list of ingredients on a pack of cigarettes offer? Would a smoker of 26 years suddenly drop their Marlboros in abject "holy shit!" terror if the laundry list of toxins was plastered on each pack? If the supposed answer is education, what more can be said to people to possibly convince them that smoking is detrimental to their health and well-being, that the pictures of black lungs and tracheostomies cannot?

I can think of one thing: "We The People will no longer pay to support your addiction."

This reminds me of homeowners on coastal South Carolina who lose their houses and possessions whenever a hurricane passes by. Every time it happens, it is deemed a disaster and their lives are uprooted, yet they inevitably use FEMA grants and government subsidies to rebuild their homes on the exact same land. The next hurricane, the next reconstruction, and the cycle continues ad nauseum.

Though we know without hesitation what happens whenever a hurricane crosses their path, why do we allow them to rebuild in a flood zone time and time again? How long can the government afford this endless cycle? I feel that it can't and, more importantly, it shouldn't.

If, despite all warning, common sense, and precedent that exists, people persist in smoking, society should not be obligated to bear this self-inflicted burden.
posted by Danelope at 1:38 AM on November 21, 2001


Wulfgar! You fucking rule! It brings me to ask (I'm assuming you're in Montana by your personal page): Have you ever listened to KOA Denver's, Rick Barber up there in the northern hinterlands in those wee hours in the morning lo these many years? I used to religiously listen to him for years and always thoroughly enjoyed his eloquent anti-anti-smoker rants.

In fact, reading your posts I almost thought you were him. In fact, that's why I checked your personal page.

And lastly: I vote for the death penalty should one's patchouli stank waft my way. I absolutely fucking abhor patchouli!!!!!!! I used to to deliver pizzas for many years, ending a few years ago. Anyhow, one day, unbeknownst to me, I get a dollar bill that's been bathed in the shit. I couldn't get that gag inducing shit off my person for a week. I HATE PATCHOULI!!!!!
posted by crasspastor at 2:16 AM on November 21, 2001


Sorry, this was driving me crazy: it's nicotine, with an "i".
posted by sylloge at 2:23 AM on November 21, 2001


If, despite all warning, common sense, and precedent that exists, people persist in smoking, society should not be obligated to bear this self-inflicted burden.


Though I doubt you understood precisely what you were saying, I find this statement to be truly telling and clever. Society should indeed be responsible for its self inflicted burdens. If society bears slavery, then society should bear cleaning up the mess. The same with an Anthrax epidemic, or riots after a championship sport event. However, I'm sure you meant that society shouldn't be responsible for cleaning up the mess of those in society who create a problem for themselves and others IN the society. Why not? The fact is, and your statement shows this, that you consider those who inflict smoking on themselves to be "extra-societal", outside what society should deal with. Extraneously, society is hurt by the actions of those partaking in this action. That's very Kantian of you, and completely marginalizes those who smoke. All well and good ... except that your precious society accepts tax revenues based on tobacco. Your government has subsidized the production of tobacco, and many local institutions require tobacco taxes to perform their societal function. So, it would seem that tobacco addiction is indeed a societal problem, and not the personal one you would so blithely dismiss as non-obligatory. If you wish to cast addicts to the harsh breezes, you'd best come up with a societal alternative to what they give. The enormous tobacco company lawsuit settlement was meant to enhance these efforts and yet we find Maryland simply instituting another method of making tobacco pay (at the whim of individuals such as yourself). If smoking truly costs society at large, as your claim would have it, why profit from it? Outlaw it, as we have other addictive drugs. Otherwise, society is, as you have said, bearing a self-inflicted burden, and must bear responsibility for cleaning up the mess/smell/health hazard.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:30 AM on November 21, 2001


I'm assuming you're in Montana

Grew up in the Bitteroot valley, live in Bozeman.

Have you ever listened to KOA Denver's, Rick Barber up there in the northern hinterlands

Actually, no. But with your endorsement, I might start.

I HATE PATCHOULI!!!!!

In small doses, I find it very pleasant, When something is bathed in it, I gag. Its pollution. The co-worker I refered to earlier drowns herself in the stuff. I can't find enough ways to avoid her. My wife is allergic to it, and if I have spent too much time in the company of said co-worker, my wife will choke up and not come near me. You want to fine something because of emotional distress ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:38 AM on November 21, 2001


You might catch his show now. He's on till 5:00 AM I think still. If this story just broke. he's bound to be expounding right about now.

Since moving to Seattle a few years ago, he's the one local Denver personality I truly should have weaned myself from. I'm too far under the Rockies and Cascades now to rip it out of the atmosphere with a mortal antenna. And ClearChannel corp. no longer streams(err something like that).

If you do pick him up (you certainly should -- I once picked up KOA in Pittsburgh, clear as a bell one winter night), you'll find him to be uncannily brilliant and I you'll find I'm damn jealous that you can.
posted by crasspastor at 2:50 AM on November 21, 2001


850 on the dial BTW.
posted by crasspastor at 2:51 AM on November 21, 2001


Apartheid is the only solution. I want to live the smokers. We'll take all the most polluted spots, like New York, Paris, Rome, etc. Non-smokers can have all the wide open spaces and go "Ah wilderness!" at will.
Failing that, we Southern Europeans will gladly take all the American smokers you don't want, as they clearly seem more amiable, congenial and civilized than the other side.
For Wulfgar! and his family we'll also throw in the sea passage, a rent-free palazzo with silver ashtrays and a small marble monument in one of the smartest Lisbon cafés.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:27 AM on November 21, 2001


For Wulfgar! and his family we'll also throw in the sea passage, a rent-free palazzo with silver ashtrays and a small marble monument in one of the smartest Lisbon cafés.

Oh my, you do tempt me so. The wife and I are having a Christmas party on the 8th. Care to attend? We'll probably be smokng, but it is our house ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:33 AM on November 21, 2001


I'd like to turn this thread back to the question of the non-smoker's health. "My sympathies are with the kid next door who has asthma who has to put up with a pollutant crossing the border," said Andrews. It's not just kids.

In my allergist's words, I am "exquisitely sensitive" to many airborne substances, including tobacco smoke and fragrances. My parents both had allergies and I inherited their genes. In my teens, my allergic rhinitis was so severe that I spent several years as a homebound student (school dust is a major source of allergens). I'm highly susceptible to respiratory infections and have asthma when a cold gets past my defenses. Recently, I spent a year trying to get my employer to enforce its written policy about fragrance use. A soap that a co-worker used made me sick, but she denied (and lied) using "perfume"; the company stonewalled until I finally gave up and quit.

I'd like to recommend The Fragranced Products Information Network.
posted by Carol Anne at 4:32 AM on November 21, 2001


Carol Anne, my condolences for your illness, but that would be your problem, wouldn't it. Or should we turn off the sun to ease it on the albinos?
posted by magullo at 4:47 AM on November 21, 2001


I'm with you Skylar, I also wish pubs and clubs in London would do something about the smoke. I used to smoke but quit because it fucked up my breathing (something I still have to live with), and walking into a dense cloud of cigarette smoke makes me feel ill. I feel for you Wulfgar because I remember how difficult it was to give up and how little you care about small issues such as death when you're a teenager. But I'm bloody glad I did, because smoking is pointless. Unlike pot or other illegal drugs, after a week or so it stops giving you a high and merely becomes the only way to beat a craving, meanwhile taking a fair chunk out of your wage (at least in Britain) and ruining your health. How I despise it.
posted by Summer at 4:54 AM on November 21, 2001


As predicted, no one in this thread has offered a valid opposition to the law. And obviously, anyone who smokes doesn't have standing to judge how "trivial" and subjective hatred of cigarette smoke is.

Smoke isn't perfume. It's a toxic substance which affects my breathing and brain in minute quantities. When the a-hole landlord's son smokes downstairs, it comes through the floor, and in the course of about 45 seconds, I feel mentally impaired. I can't work, or enjoy life. My eyes hurt. Breathing become somewhat of a problem (the same is true in the little office I consult in when the a-hole in an office about 60ft away smokes). Moreover, the problem is not controlable by private agreement. Unless you live in a coop unit where smoking in banned, you have no realistic way to control who is smoking adjacent to where you live and sleep. And where you live and sleep isn't a bar you voluntarily walk into, or some place where you are for just a little while.

No one under the age of 50 has any, ANY excuse for not knowing smoking is toxic (pre-addiction). But that's irrellevant, because even if you did have an excuse, the burden to address that would fall on YOU; not the non-smoker: YOU'RE THE TOXIC EMITTER.

Finally (actually, not finally, but I have to get to court in the Bronx), the law is, or should be written to be reasonable, and will be construed, like any law, in a reasonable way.

But to deny that cigarette smoke shouldn't be regulated in this way is....DEFECTIVE ON YOUR PART.

BRAVO
posted by ParisParamus at 5:11 AM on November 21, 2001


There has to be a connection between the mental defect which results in people smoking cigarettes

Stupidly put. Don't have clue about it, do you?


305.1 Nicotine Dependence

292 Nicotine Withdrawal

292.9 Nicotine-Related Disorder NOS


The above are diagnosed mental disorders from the DSM-4, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. Smoking is a symptom of a mental disorder. While Paris may have been facetious, he is, intentionally or not, correct.

Prove the harm.

The harm's been proven. Ask my dad, who had a lung removed and the cause of the tumor was determined by doctors at Columbia University to be directly the result of second-hand smoke (he was a reporter during the 70's and 80's, when smoking indoors, and especially in newsrooms, was rampant...)

You don't even have to ask him, becuase smokes always bring up that they have a 90-year-old grandma that still smokes and is ok. The fact is that smoking kills, and it kills not only the smoker, but seriously affects those around him or her.

I began smoking when I was 13, and continued my consumption of Kool Milds, with three one-year breaks, until I was 23 (day after Valentine's Day, 2000, is my first day without nicotine). I have a reaaaaly good program for not smoking: DON'T. I know how tough it is, and I have, in my life, kicked a lot of things, and nicotine is by far the hardest to let go of.

Wulfgarl, your defensiveness, as well as your bringing unrelated topic matter into the discussion, is completely understandable for someone who (admittedly) smokes and wants to quit. When I smoked, I defended my right to do so to the death (though I never smoked in someone's house or even in restaurants). I also defended my reasons for smoking, in the face of all kinds of credible evidence that it was destroying me. I mean, how could someone, faced with the evidence that it is going to (one way or another) kill you, and not be considered to have a mental problem? Who commits suicide and is a totally rational human being?

I made the decision, and was hooked, and it was very difficult to stop smoking, and for evidence that smoking destroyed my ability to think rationally, I smoked after my Dad had a lung removed, after a younger brother had cancer, and after my son was born. I am not proud of it whatsoever, because it was so selfish. I mean, why do I have the right to deny my son a father, just because I want to smoke? If you ask me, that is where the real selfishness is, just like someone who commits suicide is considered by many to be selfish (wanting instant release from whatever they are feeling, with no regard as to how that will affect those around him or her).

It isn't about being self-righteous, it's about protecting ourselves from other's habits. I certainly do not look down on smokers, but I don't want to be anywhere near their habit.
posted by adampsyche at 5:21 AM on November 21, 2001


Re: valid opposition to the law ---
Backyard Barbeques -- burnt meat is a carcinogen, and probably just as offensive to vegetarians.

again, we have the MeFi anti-smoking squad out in full force. I admit it, I am a smoker. What really chaps my ass is how self-righteous some people get about this issue when there are so many more important things to give a shit about.
People are starving in our streets, and children are being fucked over by our public education system -- but I really hate to smell cigarette smoke! I'll crusade against that.

Get some perspective people.
posted by tj at 5:51 AM on November 21, 2001


adampsyche: You were ready to quit when you did, you were in the right frame of mind. I have tried to quit a few times, only to lapse back because I wasn't mentally prepared, became an ass to everyone -- until a coworker handed me a pack of cigs.
posted by tj at 5:57 AM on November 21, 2001


Backyard Barbeques -- burnt meat is a carcinogen, and probably just as offensive to vegetarians.

Completely different. Barbeque is outside; and it's not a daily, year-round, night time thing. And your vegetarian thing is a lame, aesthetic strawman.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:04 AM on November 21, 2001


People are starving in our streets, and children are being fucked over by our public education system -- but I really hate to smell cigarette smoke! I'll crusade against that.

Again, that has nothing to do with this issue, with this thread. This is not about self-righteousness, I do not look down on smokers, having smoked. You raised issues that are certainly valid, but completely unrelated. Just because there are big problems doesn't mean we should ignore other ones.

And for clarification, I wasn't "ready" to quit. That is symptomatic of a big problem I see with people who want to quit smoking. "I am not ready yet!!!", they always seem to say, and I said it myself. My belief, and this is what worked for me: you are never "ready" to quit. I think that is a fallacy. Hell, I could have come up with a million reasons why "I wasn't ready". If I held onto that crap, I would have never quit. I don't think we always need to be "ready" to do certain things, we just do them. I may not have been "ready" to be a father at 22, but that was a decision I made, and I had to get ready real quick (which I did).

If you were an ass, I fail to see how waiting to quit will magically make you less of an ass next time.
posted by adampsyche at 6:08 AM on November 21, 2001


I'm amazed at the assumption that not breathing cigarette smoke is a personal preference along the order of not liking the smell of urine or perfume.

The facts:

Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers.

* Secondhand smoke has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of lung cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).

* Passive smoking is estimated by EPA to cause approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year.

Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk to children.

* The developing lungs of young children are also affected by exposure to secondhand smoke.

* Infants and young children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected by exposure to secondhand smoke, being at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. EPA estimates that passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year.

* Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have reduced lung function and symptoms of respiratory irritation like cough, excess phlegm, and wheeze.

* Passive smoking can lead to buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the most common cause of hospitalization of children for an operation.

* Asthmatic children are especially at risk. EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity of symptoms in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children. EPA estimates that between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children have their condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking may also cause thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the condition each year.

Other health implications.

* Exposure to secondhand smoke causes irritation of the eye, nose, and throat.

* Passive smoking can also irritate the lungs, leading to coughing, excess phlegm, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function.

* Secondhand smoke may affect the cardiovascular system, and some studies have linked exposure to secondhand smoke with the onset of chest pain.

[source: EPA]

The point is that smokers make a choice for whatever reason to poison their bodies, and they have every right to do so. They do not, however, have the right to adversely affect nonsmokers' health through their actions. That is what is at issue here, not the aesthetic choice of which odors are found to be attractive or unattractive. Simply because you choose to slowly kill yourself, Wulfgar!, does not give you the right to bring me along with you.
posted by dogmatic at 6:11 AM on November 21, 2001


again, we have the MeFi anti-smoking squad out in full force. I admit it, I am a smoker. What really chaps my ass is how self-righteous some people get about this issue when there are so many more important things to give a shit about.
People are starving in our streets, and children are being fucked over by our public education system -- but I really hate to smell cigarette smoke! I'll crusade against that.


You realize that some people aren't just offended by the smell, right? Personally, breathing more than a mere whiff of cigarette smoke can aggravate my asthma for several days at a time. So, the act of smoking in my presence causes me direct financial costs in the form of very expensive medication.

I'm not saying smokers should be responsible for my medical bills, but it is more than just an aesthetic issue to some people.

Or should we turn off the sun to ease it on the albinos?

You almost made a good point, if not for your ridiculous hyperbole. Obviously we can't protect people from the natural environment. Other people's active behavior is quite a different matter than the fact that sunlight is especially damaging to some individuals.

This is kind of like the new rules where kids aren't allowed to bring peanut butter sandwiches to school and airlines don't serve peanuts on board anymore because of people with peanut allergies. I mean, personally, I will admit that those rules kind of rankled me at first. I struggle with this issue a lot, because there is a certain amount of sharing of the public space that we have to deal with to function as a society. The question is where do we draw the line?

That's what we're working out with laws like this.
posted by daveadams at 6:14 AM on November 21, 2001


magullo: Carol Anne, my condolences for your illness, but that would be your problem, wouldn't it. Or should we turn off the sun to ease it on the albinos?

From FAQ on Craig Farraway's site about his albinism:
Q. Can you go outside in the sun? A. Yes, but I have to be very careful not to stay out too long, or to wear a strong sun block. The lack of melanin in my skin causes it to burn very easily in the sun.


magullo, thank you for your condolences. Yes, my illness is my problem. I do all I can to avoid what makes me sick, just as Craig Farraway wears sunblock to avoid the sun. Unfortunately, there's no "air pollution" block I can put on to block out smog or smoke or fragrance. Of course, no one wants to turn off the sun--sunlight is essential to human life. So is breathing.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:20 AM on November 21, 2001


I am in favor of banning SUVs, that pollute a lot more than cigarrettes, consume a lot more than necessary, are dangerous to everyone around if involved in a crash and for all that damage do not represent significant advantage other than satisfying the craving of the person at the wheel. In the same line, I also favor banning civilian use of guns (again, extremely dangerous to anyone around with no tangible benefit other than satisfying a craving).
posted by magullo at 6:22 AM on November 21, 2001


*gritting my teeth at the self-righteous anti-smoker bile in this thread*

I wish there was a technology that allowed me to blow smoke in people's faces through the computer ...


As predicted, no one in this thread has offered a valid opposition to the law.

Its an externalities argument. Car exhaust, nauseating perfume/ personal scents in confined places, backyard barbeques have all been mentioned. I'll also throw in fireworks, which are still legal to set off on your own property in many places. Or maybe the chlorine reek from your swimming pool, not to mention the runoff of pool chemichals from one property to another. Chemical lawn treatments. Noise pollution (including cellphones). Hell, there are even studies now that link higher male infertility rates in the populace as a whole to the hormones found in contraceptives that are building in the water supply.

Society tolerates some externalities and not others, and such tolerance is rarely based on anything but the prejudices of the society in question.
posted by hipstertrash at 6:27 AM on November 21, 2001


That is very noble of you, magullo. However, I think there may just be other threads where you can discuss those issues. If there isn't one, then wow! you can start your own!!!

Is there any reason why it is so difficult for the individuals opposed to this law to stay on topic?
posted by adampsyche at 6:28 AM on November 21, 2001


hipstertrash, could you come up with any evidence that chlorine in someone's pool, nauseating perfume, chemical lawn treatments, and cell phone noise cause death and physical harm second-hand?
posted by adampsyche at 6:35 AM on November 21, 2001


A few points here:
1. Second hand smoke has been found to be a health hazard for people that live/work in an environment innundated with smoke. A whiff of your neighbour's cigarette will not cause instant (or in the long term) cancer.
2. If I don't like the smell of frying fish, could I sue my neighbour now?
3. Smokers are almost everywhere in the world paying for their addiction already, in the form of excessive cigarette taxes.
4. Sure smoking is bad for you (I'm in the process of quiting myself). But this anti-smoking moral hysteria I find has more to do with puritanism than health.
5. You can ban smoking in your property all you want. Just don't mess with what I do in my property unless you can prove that it is beyond annoying. E.g. you can call the police on someone that throws loud parties night after night, but not on a neighbour that snores. Remember we are talking about people living across the street for chrissakes
6. What Miguel said about establishing a smokers' sanctuary in Southern Europe.
7. Check out these statistics here. And this WHO report.
posted by talos at 6:37 AM on November 21, 2001


I can't believe the bashing of smokers in this forum. Nicotine is highly addictive and its no secret that tobacco companies have done their best to make smoking seem sophisticated and saturate us (including target advertising towards children) with ads. Someone here make a poor analogy that alcoholics and smokers have no right to complain because they chose to smoke or drink. Alcohol certainly isn't addictive like nicotine is and these decisions that you claim you have to live for the rest of your life, or until you quit, were most likely done at very young and ignorant age.

I don't like second-hand smoke, my clothes stink after I come back fro a bar, etc but the last thing I want to do is start fining people to death. Fines are largely ineffective, make great revenue generators and with so many militant and uncaring people to cheerlead for this kind of legislation its a win-win for city hall. I say more stick for manufacturers and more carrot for smokers like free programs for smokers to quit, severley constricted advertising for tobacco companies, no product placement opportunities, or even better smelling cigarettes.

This problem will not go away by fining people just like pot smokers didn't drop it all when the feds decided they were having too much fun. You don't want second hand smoke? Get cracking, turn people off from smoking when you can, watch your kids, join an anti-tobacco group, fight for indoor public air ventilation laws, etc. Don't naively assume that a fine here and a fine there will have them all exhaling through toilet paper roll centers stuffed with fabric softener sheets.

Though that would be amusing.
posted by skallas at 6:40 AM on November 21, 2001


*gritting my teeth at the self-righteous anti-smoker bile in this thread*

I wish there was a technology that allowed me to blow smoke in people's faces through the computer ...


Can smokers be any less hostile? Are there any non-smokers here who feel morally superior to smokers, or is this perhaps paranoia and defensiveness on the part of smokers and their mental illness?
posted by adampsyche at 6:42 AM on November 21, 2001


adam - chlorine is a dangerous chemical, as are many of the treatments used for lawns. If you use them incorrectly or if they run off from your property into my vegetable garden, I end up eating your chemicals or inhaling them into my system. As far as the perfume, I can say that I have been known to vomit because of being forced into confined spaces with people wearing too much perfume. That is physical harm, no? As far as the cellphone noise, I know quite a few people (myself included) undergo a visible change in heart rate and stress level when exposed to those noises in public. Stress is both a quality of life and a health issue.
posted by hipstertrash at 6:44 AM on November 21, 2001


treatments used for lawns. If you use them incorrectly

But if you use cigarettes correctly, they kill. That would be the fault of someone using a product incorrectly. And cellphones are the culprit for noise pollution? I agree that they are annoying, but are they loud enough to do all that? Above a city bus, for instance?
posted by adampsyche at 6:51 AM on November 21, 2001


When I started graduate school, I lived in an apartment above a chain smoker. The apartment reeked of smoke, and I spent a fair amount of money cleaning all of my stuff once I moved. For the year that I lived there, I was sick constantly (respiratory irritation and infection; headaches). My fiancee and I had planned to live in that apartment after our marriage, but she visited the apartment twice and got quite ill both times. Well, the guy who smoked wasn't about to get a new apartment. So rather than infringe upon my neighbor's rights to live and smoke where he wanted and demand that he take his smoking elsewhere, we took matters into our own hands.

We moved to a new apartment, where the landlords do not offer a rental contract to anyone who smokes (among other things; the landlords are financing their retirement off of their rental properties, and so they want to keep them clean and in good quality). It costs us a bit more, but our improved health is worth it. Best of all, no one had to quit smoking or get fined.

It's too bad that not everyone who is affected adversely by their neighbors has the option of moving. Are fines a solution? Do they address the appropriate problem? Experiments are currently under way in Montgomery County to address these and other questions.

Can I sue people for getting bile all over both the smoking and nonsmoking sections of this thread? Ick.
posted by iceberg273 at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2001


I am just going to go on the record and say that I have long thought of a separate state for smokers. Southeastern Europe sounds fine. I used to think Staten Island would be perfect, but that is too close to me, and I have been somewhat sympathetic to that whole region lately.
posted by adampsyche at 6:54 AM on November 21, 2001


adam, even when used correctly, you are introducing dangerous chemicals into my environment. My cigarettes next door are not any more of a 'health hazard' to you than your chlorine is to me, realistically. see talos' post. And yes, cell phones are that loud. I've been at rock concerts where people have had their cell phones set so loud as to be heard over the music. In my experience, few of them turn them down after they leave the show.
posted by hipstertrash at 6:56 AM on November 21, 2001


I agree that we shouldn't blame the smokers themselves. I believe in the kinds of laws that allow individual freedoms while protecting the collective rights of society. A smoker should be able to smoke or make noise in his or her own home, but they have to be respectful of their neighbours. This may mean installing filters in the ventilation to prevent smoke escaping or soundproofing to prevent noise.

When there will be many smokers in a given location, eg a nightclub or bar, we need the venue's owners to take responsibility in installing high-end air conditioning or building non-smoking areas. Very simple, nothing to do with finger-pointing or morals or personal accusations. I am disappointed that there are no laws to back these ideas up in England.
posted by skylar at 6:56 AM on November 21, 2001


Oh boo fucking hoo. I'm real sorry you fell for the "smoking = cool" thing when you were sixteen. I really don't care why you are addicted. I know most smokers want to quit but find it difficult.

None of that matters.

The bottom line is, keep your smoke away from me!

Very often I'll sit in my car at a red light with another car in front of me (sometimes even one of those nasty, polluting SUVs) and the driver of the other car will be smoking. Guess what? It offends me! I don't smell the exhaust from the car, I smell the smoke from the cigarette. It makes me sick. Nobody should have the "right" to do that to someone. THAT is how offensive cigarette smoke is.

I know, as a non-smoker, I really have no right to tell you to "just quit" or to give you some story about how my aunt quit after smoking for fifty years (actually, she died of a heart attack but only after getting her leg amputated due to circulation problems caused in part by... SMOKING!) but, as smokers, you have no right to call me self-righteous when all I want to do is sit in MY home that I paid good money for, and breath fresh air.

I don't car why, how, or what you smoke. I don't care how addicted you are. That's your problem and I hope you manage to deal with it. Just keep it the fuck away from me. That's the bottom line. Heroin is addictive too but I'm sure you'd complain if some junkie stabbed you with his needle.
posted by bondcliff at 7:01 AM on November 21, 2001


remind me never to go to Montgomery.

and i don't even smoke.
posted by Qambient at 7:03 AM on November 21, 2001


adam, even when used correctly, you are introducing dangerous chemicals into my environment

I don't have a pool, for the record. I don't know how this got entered into the debate, or what your point is. If pools are harmful to neighbors, find the evidence (like, a link or something?), back it up, and post a thread.

Same for the cell phones. Whether they are loud or not, I really fail to see what this has to do with this thread, besides more instances of stuff that intrudes on others. What is your point? That we should focus on that as well? Start a thread, then, and stay on topic? Please?
posted by adampsyche at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2001


Accept responsibility for your own actions.

Your arguments in this thread have been exemplary, Danelope. Kudos.

Wulfgar!, you are in some serious denial, my friend.
posted by rushmc at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2001


I don't have a pool, for the record.

It's a hypothetical pool, I think. Straw man, I kill you™!
posted by iceberg273 at 7:09 AM on November 21, 2001


"I told you so" and "I'm going to make you do what's right" just makes me want to smoke more and really piss off those who think they have more claim to the good in life than I do.

That's a reasoned, mature, responsible attitude...the expectations of others should be virtually irrelevant to your own desire for good health and well being. That should be innate and self-motivated.

"Ooh, I'll show THEM! Tell ME I can't blow my head off with this shotgun, will they?!?"

KABLOOM!!
posted by rushmc at 7:10 AM on November 21, 2001


adam - do you know what externalities are, or do you want me to define it for you? Because the concept is integral to this thread. Read my initial post. There was a claim that this thread contained no valid arguments against this law, and I mentioned examples of other externalites that are not as heavily regulated as cigarette smoking and probably never would be. Some were from others, some were my own.
posted by hipstertrash at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2001


There was a claim that this thread contained no valid arguments against this law, and I mentioned examples of other externalites that are not as heavily regulated as cigarette smoking and probably never would be.

Ok, I see your point. But, I fail to see why focusing attention on something else that is not getting regulatory attention takes away from the validity of the law. You have said very much, but I don't see your point. Spell it out for me. Is it that none of it should get regulatory attention, or that all of it should? I know what an externality is, and can see why you may have brought it up, but I don't see you linking that evidence to the validity of this law.
posted by adampsyche at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2001


adampsyche, I am simply arguing for more prohibitions based on activites that infringe on 3rd parties' rights while satisfying an individual's craving. I am trying to be coherent with the anti-smokers (rather than non-smoker, which is a different thing).
posted by magullo at 7:20 AM on November 21, 2001


magullo--thank you for that point. More power to you.
posted by adampsyche at 7:21 AM on November 21, 2001


adam - my point, for the second time:

Society tolerates some externalities and not others, and such tolerance is rarely based on anything but the prejudices of the society in question.

In other words, the arguments in this thread are not about a health hazard, but about one of many health hazards that just happens to be stigmatized more than SUVs or contraception. Call this for what it is: part of a larger campaign to eliminate a certain behaviour that a certain segement of society finds offensive.
posted by hipstertrash at 7:23 AM on November 21, 2001


Thank you, hipstertrash, for making that clear. I would like to see evidence of some of the things you talked about, though, such as the contraceptions and chlorine (not that I doubt you, I just haven't heard of it). I would also like to know how much of a risk these thing pose when compared to smoking. If there can be a merit system whereby attention can be given to things depending upon how much harm they cause, so be it. I do not think it takes away from the validity of this law, though.
posted by adampsyche at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2001


I can smell Wulfgar's breath and stinky yellow hands from here.
posted by websavvy at 7:55 AM on November 21, 2001


hipstertrash, you make a good point that there are lots of other externalities that cause problems to people, and that smoking is being singled out by this ordinance. It's easy to see it as a big conspiracy to eliminate smoking, but I don't think that's the reason.

It's about deciding what kind of thing crosses the line. If your neighbor was a knife-thrower and liked to practice in his backyard by throwing at a target he had set up on top of the fence separating your properties, and one day, while you were out enjoying your lemonade on the patio, a knife flew past the target and into your head, then that's obviously something you have a legitimate legal complaint about.

That's hyperbole, but the point is that there is a line, somewhere, that distinguishes what is okay to inflict on other people in your proximity and what isn't. You are pointing out that perfume, lawn chemicals, et al are generally acceptable to inflict on your neighbors. But I hope you would agree with me that knives to the head are not acceptable. So there's a line somewhere between CK One and Ginsu 2000.

So does Marlboro cross that line? Some people obviously think so. Others disagree. The question should be, how many people does smoking potentially harm, and to what extent. Knives could harm 100% of the population quite seriously. I would say less than .01% would probably be significantly bothered (to the point of injury) by their neighbor's choice of perfume. Smoking is in between.

What amount of risk and potential damage is acceptable to inflict on those individuals in near proximity to you? That's what we have to decide and what I think we should be arguing about.
posted by daveadams at 8:03 AM on November 21, 2001


Am I the only one who doesn't get bothered by second-hand smoke? Even before I started smoking the most deadly cigarettes on the market, second-hand smoke never bothered me, and I lived with two HUMAN CHIMNEYS!

This is just bullshit. It's extreme anti-smoking prejudice. "Oh no, the second hand smoke will kill me!!" So will a lot of other things in this world; me, for instance, if I keep hearing all this nonsense. Yes, smoking is a bad thing and does more harm than good, but so what--so does drinking!
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:04 AM on November 21, 2001


This is just bullshit. It's extreme anti-smoking prejudice. "Oh no, the second hand smoke will kill me!!" So will a lot of other things in this world; me, for instance, if I keep hearing all this nonsense. Yes, smoking is a bad thing and does more harm than good, but so what--so does drinking!

That was bullshit. Second hand smoke does kill. And it kills those who do not make the choice to smoke. That was the most ridiculous thing I have seen said on this thread, and there is some stiff competition (me included, for sure). But that simply took the fucking cake. Listen, second hand smoke cost my dad a lung, so before you go off and say stupid shit like mock people who are harmed by others's disease, get a clue, some sympathy, and come correct.
posted by adampsyche at 8:09 AM on November 21, 2001


I blame Roy Castle.
posted by holgate at 8:22 AM on November 21, 2001


"...its your smell, it makes me vomit."
posted by tomplus2 at 8:31 AM on November 21, 2001


all right, enough of this shit! time to ban gasoline, alcohol, smoking, and all other substances proven to cause detrimental effects on the environment and health of the superior race on earth. bring in the electric cars, finally perfect the damn sterling engine, and get rid of the corrupt government. cigarette smoke makes me sick (literally), you want us to stop complaining? make it smell good! (sad but true?) shit, if cigarettes smelled like incense i doubt there would be as many complainers. although i would still bitch you out for being a weak, inferior, pathetic example of a human.

Sarcasm Meter @ 20% (meaning i'm being 20% sarcastic, but in reality i wouldn't mind seeing this actually happen)....but i do dislike smoking with a passion. all we need is love.
posted by physics at 8:32 AM on November 21, 2001


second-hand smoke never bothered me

Oh! Well, never mind then. ~You've convinced me!~ Why are we still arguing, folks? Dark Messiah isn't bothered, so those of us who are can now go home and rethink our positions!

"Oh no, the second hand smoke will kill me!! "So will a lot of other things in this world

So it's okay to do something that violates someone else's rights just because there might be other things out there that could also do the same thing?

Yes, smoking is a bad thing and does more harm than good, but so what--so does drinking!

Ummm... what? The argument here is about a specific aspect of smoking that really can't be analogized to any aspect about drinking. Except perhaps drunk driving. I'm tempted, but that's taking things a little too far.
posted by daveadams at 8:32 AM on November 21, 2001


Listen, adampsyche I agree that second hand smoke might be a carcinogen, but at what levels? Certainly there is a difference between a nonsmoker working 15 years in a smokers club and an occasional whiff of smoke coming through your window or from a guy standing 10 meters away at a bus station. The problem I see with laws such as the one mentioned in the article linked above, is that they see any level of smoke as a potential killer. That is simply not true. This demonization of tobbaco goes beyond the purely rational (smoking may kill you) to sloganeering (smoking will kill you) to the paranoid (any level of exposure to tobbaco smoke is lethal or at least harmful). This isn't plutonium we're talking about.
posted by talos at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2001


dave - i think that you are on the right track, with the caveat that, while not a 'conspiracy,' you can't say that there aren't interesting parallels between smoking as a social/ public health issue and the partisan maneuvering surrounding big tobacco.

While your knife throwing to perfume illustration holds some merit, its one sided in the sense that only the rights of one party are taken into account, the implication being that the 'harmed' parties are the only ones that have a say in deciding where the line is, who crosses it, and how to handle the situation. As a smoker, I'm engaging in an activity that has been more or less acceptable since the introduction of tobacco into western culture about 500 years ago. It has only been in recent decades that a combination of science, social prejudice, and politics has lead the charge to stigmatize my actions. Do I roll over and abandon my rights alltogether? In the last century, the united states saw what happened when a simmilar combination of forces decided that drinking was an odious externality. Now, we have research that shows the health benefits of moderate drinking. None of the factors in this equation are absolutes, even he science. And yet anti smoking forces, like the temperance movement, are taking increasingly absolute stands, and once again we find ourselves treating a problem of economics and social science with the bitter medicine of politics.
posted by hipstertrash at 8:38 AM on November 21, 2001


I'm with Dark Messiah. The fury of the anti-smokers on this thread simply astounds me -- it is a real eye-opener into American culture. What makes me laugh is on top of it you still eat that shitty food which is killing your hearts and drive those horrible polluting cars which annoy pedestrians.

I cannot even imagine a situation where someone smoking a cigarette could bother their neighbour too seriously, let alone give them lung cancer -- it might occasionally waft over the fence or something, and you deal with it, just like you deal with any minor inconvenience in life.
posted by dydecker at 8:39 AM on November 21, 2001


I've been arguing thus far that it isn't an aesthetic issue, but I think that point could be argued as well. The stench of smoking could well be considered a public nuisance, and there are quite a few precendents in that area. If an apartment dweller piled manure, rotting meat, and sulfur out on his patio and his neighbors were forced to smell it, I imagine nuisance laws might manage to fine the guy. So what's the difference?

This demonization of tobbaco... (any level of exposure to tobbaco smoke is ... harmful)

It is to some people. That's a fact. It may not be enough of a concern to be worth making laws about, but please don't pass it off as a mere nuisance.
posted by daveadams at 8:40 AM on November 21, 2001


Danelope: No, young people *aren't* given much of an idea of how truly harmful even smoking a few cigarettes a day can be, or that "social smoking" can be dangerous. The issue certainly isn't dealt with head-on, in a way students can relate to. Neither are kids given much of idea from society at large as to how addictive smoking can be, even if you just pick up one or two now and then at a bar or with friends at first. If people then continue to smoke after knowing the full story, much like people who were kids in the '80s continue to use coke even after Len Bias, then fine, it's their fault. But the movies, the culture at large, still give the idea that smoking isn't totally bad, at a certain level. Social smoking or light smoking is shown to be just OK, if a little naughty. (And don't give me any crap here: I've read anti-tobacco lawsuit people here argue the same.)

Meantime, the (federal) governmental part of society continues to subsidize tobacco. I often seen articles pushing tobacco stocks as a hot buy. Finally, you also didn't address my comment as to why it's legally required for food and drugs to list ingredients, but not for cigarettes. A double standard working there, I think. But you completely ignored that glaring fact, for all intents and purposes, mainly because it doesn't fit your self-righteous thesis.
posted by raysmj at 8:46 AM on November 21, 2001


the implication being that the 'harmed' parties are the only ones that have a say in deciding where the line is, who crosses it, and how to handle the situation.

Well, this was not my intention. Everyone should have a say in where the line is drawn. And the job of municipal governments is to come up with a law that suits their citizens, which is, I'm presuming, what is going on here.

FWIW, I too am disgusted at the government's full-speed-ahead charge to demonize the tobacco industry for the fact that its products are unhealthful. As has been pointed out, our society tolerates all sorts of other unhealthy behavior and cigarettes are not particularly more dangerous than a lifetime of Big Macs to the consumer.

At the same time, tobacco is a special case, in that the act of smoking is not a completely personal thing, but also affects the immediate environment. So like I said, I have mixed feelings. I think anyone should be allowed to do anything they want so long as it doesn't hurt others. But to have a society, some level damage will have to be acceptable. And so I come back to where to draw that line. I don't know the right answer, but I think discussions like this one will help us get closer to finding it, assuming we can avoid the nasty language and name-calling (not talking to you here, hipster).
posted by daveadams at 8:49 AM on November 21, 2001


"Oh no, the second hand smoke will kill me!! "So will a lot of other things in this world

This is true. Murder is illegal, manslaughter is a crime, owning pirahnas in the state of Washington is unlawful... I see pattern that indicates that maybe smoking in a situation that would, hyperbole-istically, kill others, should be illegal as well. Maybe dumping toxic waste into a public water supply ought to be illegal.
posted by j.edwards at 8:51 AM on November 21, 2001


Douglas M. Duncan (D-County Executive)
Isiah Leggett (D-At Large).
Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large)
Blair G. Ewing (D-At Large)
Derick Berlage (D-Silver Spring)
Philip Andrews (D-Rockville)

If only one could detect a "pattern" here ...
posted by RavinDave at 8:51 AM on November 21, 2001


Listen, adampsyche I agree that second hand smoke might be a carcinogen, but at what levels?

True enough, I guess what I was responding to were the ridiculous claims that it doesn't do any harm, in the form of mocking those who are.

What makes me laugh is on top of it you still eat that shitty food which is killing your hearts and drive those horrible polluting cars which annoy pedestrians.

How do you know what people do? Maybe the people in question do eat healthy.

I cannot even imagine a situation where someone smoking a cigarette could bother their neighbour too seriously

Would you mind reading some of the previous posts? Then you wouldn't have to use your imagination.
posted by adampsyche at 8:55 AM on November 21, 2001


irst, I'd like to adress a common myth, expressed way up near the top of the thread.

When you puffed your first cigarette and coughed and hacked, why did you smoke a second one?

I didn't cough and hack when I puffed my first cigarette. I inhaled and became fuzzy and happy and exhaled. Same with my second cigarette, and same with my first cigarette of the morning every day. Cigarettes give you a noticeable high, and it's a happy fun place to be for a couple of minutes. That's the part of smoking they don't tell you about in the after school specials.

That being said, second hand smoke really is quite disgusting, even I don't much like the smell of it, but being around it is my choice.

I have another question. How many of you people with smoking neighbours have talked to your neighbours about it? I'm a smoker and I have no idea whether or not my neighbours can smell the smoke from my townhouse. Until they make mention of it, I'm not going to do any different.

The same goes for my entertainment system. I've got it set at what I think is a reasonable volume, and until I hear complaints from my neighbours (which I don't think will happen, as we've had this particular setup for almost a year and haven't heard any complaints) I'm going to have to assume that my volume levels aren't offensive.

And no, stereo volume isn't exactly the same as smoke. It's an analogy, I'm not trying to derail the thread somehow.

Smokers, despite some of the foolishness in this thread (what was that about sending smoke through the Internet? That's just being an out and out ass) not all smokers are interested in fucking up your lives while we fuck up our own.

If there's a regular cause of smoke around you that's bothering you, perhaps rather than sitting and fuming about how stupid and rude and mentally deficient the source is, you could introduce yourself, explain the fact that smoke is leaking into your environment and say something like "I really hate to sound like a prig about this, but perhaps there's something that can be done so we can both enjoy our homes."

If I walk up to you and call you an insensitive, vain, inconsiderate stupid mentally deficient ass you are not going to do anything to help me. If you come to me doing the same, I am not going to do anything to help you. It's called communication, negotiation and diplomacy, and just maybe you won't have to resort to fining a neighbour.

We don't do it to spite you. We don't do it to piss you off. If it were possible to have a second-hand smokeless cigarette, most of us would buy them and we'd all be a lot happier because then our hair and our clothes wouldn't smell like smoke either.

Flies and honey and all that.
posted by cCranium at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2001


[all Democrats on the council]
If only one could detect a "pattern" here ...


That the residents of Montgomery county are mostly Democrats?

[cCranium] We don't do it to spite you. We don't do it to piss you off.

Of course not, although intent does not necessarily mean anything to the harmed party. You are right, though, that neighbors should try to address these issues in a friendly way before taking it to the police or to court. But if friendly measures have failed, it's nice to have some backup.
posted by daveadams at 9:04 AM on November 21, 2001


cCranium - yeah, when I made that comment, I was being an ass, but I won't apologize for it. If I'm out at a (smoker-friendly) bar, and people near me start making the same kind of obnoxious, petty, and mean spirited kinds of comments found in this thread, and its obvious that said comments are for my benefit, I won't hesitate to blow smoke in the direction of the comments. I'm a human being engaging in a legal activity in an appropriate place, and I won't put up with self-righteous lectures or whining from complete strangers. Respect is a two way street, and I'm not going to give a damn about someone else's rights until they show some consideration for mine.
posted by hipstertrash at 9:09 AM on November 21, 2001


"Why just imagine how I'd handle this if..." I were Opus.
posted by gazingus at 9:09 AM on November 21, 2001


I smoked for 15 years and quit. I can't stand being around cigarette smoke both because it's nasty and because, at the same time, it makes me want to smoke and I have to fight the cravings. Damn, even typing about cigarettes is making me want to smoke. Okay, so please bear with me if I get cranky.

I agree that non-smokers have the right not to be bothered by cigarette smoke, both for health and asthetic reasons. But how far should society go to protect them? It seems like regulating people's smoking in their own homes is out of line. How exactly will this law be enforced? You're sitting there in your own home late at night smoking a cigarette and all of a sudden the cops come banging at the door saying they want to search the place on suspicion of illegal activity? Nope, not worth the invasion of privacy.

Part of it is the cheap, flimsy construction of apartment buildings, in the US, at least, without proper ventilation systems (not to mention no insulation from noise, etc). Nonsmokers, myself included now, have to deal with it and get an air filter.
posted by hazyjane at 9:10 AM on November 21, 2001


Douglas M. Duncan (D-County Executive)
Isiah Leggett (D-At Large).
Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large)
Blair G. Ewing (D-At Large)
Derick Berlage (D-Silver Spring)
Philip Andrews (D-Rockville)

If only one could detect a "pattern" here ...


I work in Montgomery County, and I lived here until recently and will soon again. You've selectively listed Democratic council members. The council is larger than that. From the article:

But a council committee chose to include tobacco smoke, a decision that six of the nine council members supported yesterday after a heated debate. The measure was backed by Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large), Blair G. Ewing (D-At Large), Howard A. Denis (R-Potomac-Bethesda), Derick Berlage (D-Silver Spring) and Philip Andrews (D-Rockville) and Leggett. Nancy Dacek (R-Upcounty) and Michael L. Subin (D-At Large) voted no, and Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County) voted "present."

Montgomery County also has a Republican representative in Congress, and many of its delegates to the state legislature are also republicans, depending on the district. It is, truly, a majority Democratic county, but not overwhelmingly so.

It's also a pretty good place to live, with an excellent public school system.

If the citizens here don't like the idea, they can tell their representatives. I, personally, don't have a problem with the idea of the law although in practice, it seems like a nightmare to enforce and more of a tool for people to get back at neighbors that they're annoyed at than anything else.
posted by anapestic at 9:12 AM on November 21, 2001


daveadams: Big Macs aren't addictive in any way, no matter what McDonald's may claim (joke there). Also, they have many nutritious elements, including lettuce, cheese (extremely good source of calcium), protein in the beef, etc. You're being rather silly there. Bad eating costs the government plenty of money, though. I'll hand you that much. It's just impossible to narrow down what does the most damage for individuals. To give odd examples from breakfast: Even good store-bought muffins have a lot of fat, and two will get you about 40-to-60 percent of your daily, recommended sodium limit. One good bagel (pushed by the culture as mega-healthy for you) will push you to about 25 percent of your daily sodium limit, maybe 40 to 50 with cream cheese. This is just breakfast, without any sausage or whatnot. Sodium doesn't affect everyone, but the limit is recommended for most people. Heck, M&M's are may be healthier for most people than packaged muffins, if eaten in moderation.
posted by raysmj at 9:14 AM on November 21, 2001


Some points:

I was a meat-eater, now I am not. I have never been offended by barbecue smell, though, for a period of a few months after ending my ingestion of meat, walking past a shoe or other leather goods store in a mall would turn my stomach. I never wanted it banned, though. It doesn't damage people's health.

Montgomery is a county in Maryland. If you see a story in the Washington Post and it tallks about a county but doesn't name the state, it's a pretty safe bet that it's in Maryland or Virginia.

Second hand smoke is not just an aesthetic issue, it affects the health of those subjected to it. If you want to argue that this law is wrong, you must argue that smokers have a right to inflict damage upon the health of their neighbors.

Arguing that other unregulated activity harms people is not a valid defense that this law is wrong. This law must be attacked or defended on it's own.

Yes, it is tough to quit smoking, but that difficulty doesn't give anyone the right to damage the health of their neighbors.
posted by NortonDC at 9:16 AM on November 21, 2001


In Russian, they had "druzhiniki" -- (basically) self-appointed busybodies who would stop you and the street and bawl you out if your shirt was dirty, your beard was unkempt, or you wear wearing a light jacket on a cold day. I've never seen an American neighborhood that didn't have a sour-faced biddie at the ready to dispense unwanted advice about how people should live our lives. You've met her (or him) too -- she's the frowning, friendless, anal-retentive, mad-at-the-world crab-apple constantly mooning about the idyllic "old" days. You walk by her with an unlit cigarette and she damn near collapses into spasm of histrionic hacking. If you took her into a courtroom, she'd swear on a stack of Bibles that you were blowing the smoke from a 3-foot stoogie into her wizened face.

No doubt she (and our younger biddies-in-training) be in charge of "smoking" out our new class of criminals. (We'll issue them brown shirts). She'll complain. 99.9% of the time, the smell will be in her head, but after she sees you with that pack of Camels in your shirtpocket, she'll convince herself you're putting out more smell than the sewer of a rendering plant. (I'll *love* to see how they intend to establish the existence of a problem. We have local packing plants that get away with blaming their scent on traffic fumes). Think she'd agree with the concept of "smoker apartments"? Of course not. That'd solve the problem and she'd be stuck with one less thing to bitch about.

I have a theory on all this. There are so few issues that we really have control over. Smokers are an attractive target -- it makes us feel like we have control over "something". And it keeps us distracted from the important stuff we don't. It also feeds our national "victim complex" and lets us feel oh-so superior. We've become that nation of biddies. American druzhiniki.

I gotta admit: it's not everyday that Rush Limbaugh gets proven right -- but he nailed this issue.
posted by RavinDave at 9:40 AM on November 21, 2001


Big Macs aren't addictive in any way, no matter what McDonald's may claim (joke there). Also, they have many nutritious elements

It's a common misperception that Maccy Ds is the most unhealthy food you can have. A Big Mac is a flimsy thing and has about as many calories and cholesterol as a ham sandwich and considerably less than something home-made and substantial like lasagne. KFC on the other hand is evil and must be avoided at all costs.
posted by Summer at 9:44 AM on November 21, 2001


> You've selectively listed Democratic council members.

The hell I did. I listed the ones cited as being closest to the issue. I omitted *1* Republican in favor. Hardly a misrepresentation given the ratio.
posted by RavinDave at 9:45 AM on November 21, 2001


I omitted *1* Republican in favor.

That makes it selective.
posted by NortonDC at 9:49 AM on November 21, 2001


[daveadams] Of course not, although intent does not necessarily mean anything to the harmed party.

No, and I realise that. All I'm saying is that I hope people try peaceable negotiation with smokers before immediately assuming we want to harm you.

I know that it doesn't work every time, and probably not the majority of times, but if you're in a public, open-air space just asking someone nicely to not smoke near you is often a good way to get rid of your irritation.

cCranium - yeah, when I made that comment, I was being an ass, but I won't apologize for it.

That's fair, and I don't expect you to. I've been an unapologetic ass many times in the past, and am likely to be again in the future.

I also agree with you that non-smokers entering smoke-friendly environments should be aware of what they're doing and realise they will be inundated with smoke in certain restaurants, but that's not so much what this discussion is focussing on.

When it comes to someone's home, car, work environment, whatever, I don't want to stink it up because of my choices, and if I am, I would greatly appreciate my neighbour telling me so I can be a better neighbour before getting slapped with a fine.

Going back to the music analogy, I'd much rather have a neighbour let me know I'm being too loud then having them file a complaint with my townhouse's management company.

The backup as Dave said is important to have, but it should be backup, not the first line of defense.
posted by cCranium at 9:49 AM on November 21, 2001


I think basically what I'm asking is to not immediately be associated with the many asses that are out there just because we share a bad habit.
posted by cCranium at 9:52 AM on November 21, 2001


The hell I did. I listed the ones cited as being closest to the issue. I omitted *1* Republican in favor. Hardly a misrepresentation given the ratio.

50% of the Republicans on the council voted in favor of this bill, while 71% of the Democrats did. On the other hand, 100% of the women voted no. Finding patterns in small samples is fun, fun, fun!

This is a fight about smoking. Please don't confuse us with an orthogonal fight about politics.
posted by iceberg273 at 9:57 AM on November 21, 2001


Big Macs aren't addictive in any way

True, I concede that point (although they are habit-forming ;). But someone who eats Big Macs and the like every day for decades is likely to have as serious health problems as someone who smokes in moderate amounts for that long. The problems will be different, but no less threatening to the individual and costly to the public.
posted by daveadams at 10:04 AM on November 21, 2001


also listed as disorders are alcohol intoxication, erectile disfunction, premature ejaculation, phobias and stuttering.

those who don't like the smoke filled bars and clubs should find alternative venues. if you know it's going to be smokey and make you ill, go elsewhere (duh). if enough people don't go, and the proprieter loses enough money, he or she will change the policy. economic pressures.
visits to southern California and Houston are hell on my asthma, so i avoid those places. eventually, they'll cave to the intense economic pressure i exert.

personally, with all the mean things and rudeness on both sides, i don't want to be associated with either smokers or non-smokers. you all suck. i'll just be my own group of "maybe I do, maybe I don't"ers.
posted by tolkhan at 10:24 AM on November 21, 2001


daveadams: Common misperception. There is no way to define "moderate" smoking. And even if you could, moderation in smoking can do serious damage over the long-haul, maybe as much or more as long-term smoking. I've known a few "social smokers," but the vast majority of people who do smoke socially will get addicted. Not may, will. And if second-hand smoke could kill a man, what do you think social smoking has the chance of doing?

By contrast, not many people will be killed by a few Big Mac's eaten now and then. If they are killed by such, there was a major diet problem they needed to see about (or have spotted, at a physical or even a regular doctor's appointment) a long time before death. By the way, it was suggested by someone else earlier, but . . . a burger at a more expensive place, say one of those chain fern bars, will have many times more calories, and more saturated fat, sodium, etc., than a Big Mac. It's still OK, however, for most people to have a burger every once in a while. (Veggie burgers - what crap, and dreadfully high in sodium too.) You can't say that with any certainty about smoking.
posted by raysmj at 10:27 AM on November 21, 2001


those who don't like the smoke filled bars and clubs should find alternative venues.

Uh, we're talking about homes here. Where people live, and not where they socialize. As you put it, "duh".
posted by adampsyche at 10:52 AM on November 21, 2001


also listed as disorders are alcohol intoxication, erectile disfunction, premature ejaculation, phobias and stuttering.

And your point is....
posted by adampsyche at 10:54 AM on November 21, 2001


Yes, adam, we're talking about my home. And last time I checked, smoking was legal. How is it that your rights, in this situation, supercede mine? If you have a concern about air quality, get some air filters and keep your windows closed. The bottom line is personal responsibility; your health and your quality of life are your responsibility, not mine. Its not as if smokers are standing there blowing the smoke into your window, vents, or over the fence.
posted by hipstertrash at 11:23 AM on November 21, 2001


If you have a concern about air quality, get some air filters and keep your windows closed.

That's a great idea! I'll e-mail you my address privately so you can send me the check to pay for the filters, the air conditioning unit, and the increase in my electric bill. Thanks a lot; I hope all your neighbors take you up on this generous offer!
posted by kindall at 11:30 AM on November 21, 2001


hipstertrash--Smokers are releasing toxic chemicals into the air, and this law holds them accountable if the pollution they produce reaches another person's home.

The law does not make it illegal to smoke, it makes it illegal to contaminate another person's home with toxic smoke. The law won't stop you from smoking until it kills you, it only penalizes the smoker if they contaminate the air in another person's home with toxic smoke.

The law places the burden of controlling toxic smoke on those that produce it. Why do you object to that?
posted by NortonDC at 11:35 AM on November 21, 2001


Yes, adam, we're talking about my home. And last time I checked, smoking was legal. How is it that your rights, in this situation, supercede mine?

No one said that anyone's right superceded yours. The article says "If the smoke wafts into a neighbor's home -- whether through a door, a vent or an open window -- that neighbor could complain to the county's Department of Environmental Protection."

So that would mean that there would have to be some contact, and I do think that this measure would not be even tested if the parties could agree to work on a solution. If I had a neighbor whose smoking interfered with my private home then I would speak to them in a neighborly way, and try to come to an agreement.


If you have a concern about air quality, get some air filters and keep your windows closed.

Oh, puh leeze. That has nothing to do with what is being talked about here. We are talking about a nuisance that could be caused by someone's smoking that interferes with someone else's home. Why should I be the one, if I was to complain, to take the measures? Why can't the person who is intruding on my property take a measure, since they are the ones crossing the boundary?

The bottom line is personal responsibility; your health and your quality of life are your responsibility, not mine.

The topic here is not whether you smoke, and it is not whether I smoke. It is whether A's smoking interferes with B's household. That is why we have laws, to enforce responsibility when people otherwise wouldn't take any. It doesn't always work, but it can. If A's smoking was crossing into my property, or house, or apartment, then that would make it their responsibility. Why couldn't the smoker get a smokeless ashtray? Or an air filter?
posted by adampsyche at 11:42 AM on November 21, 2001


But who defines 'interfering,' or when my right to do as i please on my property becomes a 'nuisance.' If I am smoking a cigarette on my property, and you have your window open, how am i protected from harrasing claims from you? what is the standard by which we measure all of this? that is what makes this different from a noise violation, because noise is quantifiable in decimals. how do you propose to measure cigarette smoke in the air?
posted by hipstertrash at 11:51 AM on November 21, 2001


decibels
posted by hipstertrash at 11:52 AM on November 21, 2001


what is the standard by which we measure all of this? that is what makes this different from a noise violation, because noise is quantifiable in decimals. how do you propose to measure cigarette smoke in the air?

When was the last time you measured the decibel level of a neighbor's behavior before calling the cops? Did the police ask for a quantified level when writing up the report? Did you give it to them?

My bet is you didn't. Neither has anyone else. Bad analogy.

Next?
posted by dogmatic at 11:55 AM on November 21, 2001


how am i protected from harrasing claims from you? what is the standard by which we measure all of this? that is what makes this different from a noise violation, because noise is quantifiable in decimals. how do you propose to measure cigarette smoke in the air?

Uh, how about a neighborly talk? Like I suggested, as did others? I doubt that you would see anyone going to the police over trivial incidents, but if it was a repeated thing, to which the person was met with either hostility or disregard (like blowing smoke in others' faces, no?), then this would give an individual a means to settle the dispute.

But who defines 'interfering,' or when my right to do as i please on my property becomes a 'nuisance.'

Is there anyone else who isn't clear on this? I think this should be clear to everyone. Same with the stereo. I can do what I please, but if it makes a nuisance, and invades anothers' living space, then I am responsible.
posted by adampsyche at 12:01 PM on November 21, 2001


Of course you don't measure the levels, but that doesn't make a difference. If I know that a decibel level of X is a loud party, or a decibel level of y is a jet engine, i don't have to know the exact number to have a relative concept of noise, and what is or is not a violation under the circumstances. The fact still stands that there is nothing objective or quantifiable about this statute. It would be impossible to enforce without relying solely on the opinion of the complaining party. and since we've all seen how much common respect and decency that non smokers feel towards smokers, pardon me if i don't want to trust most non smokers to be fair and reasonable.
posted by hipstertrash at 12:03 PM on November 21, 2001


hipstertrash, this was directed at you:

The law places the burden of controlling toxic smoke on those that produce it. Why do you object to that?
posted by NortonDC at 12:14 PM on November 21, 2001


Norton, I object because 'control,' in this sense, is terribly vague. We're not talking about industrial smokestacks here, we're talking about a cigarette. And just because you can smell that someone in the neighborhood is smoking a cigarette while mowing the lawn does not mean that your health is being threatened. As it has been stated several times in this thread, the scientific evidence on second hand smoke states that health problems can occur in environments where a person's exposure is constant and immediate. You may not like the smell of cigarette smoke going from my yard to yours, but you can't make the statement that I am putting you at an immediate health risk. I'm not dumping toxins into your water, I'm not burying radioactive waste in the yard, I'm not dumping petrochemicals into the air. Cigarette smoke does not belong in the same category with the items that this law was originally designed to protect against. There has to be a point at which society as a whole can say, "sorry if you don't like this, but your annoyance is not a valid reason to violate the civil liberties of others."
posted by hipstertrash at 12:22 PM on November 21, 2001


I can absolutely say that you are exposing me to toxic chemicals against my will. What legally protects your doing that more than my being free of it?
posted by NortonDC at 12:26 PM on November 21, 2001


'Scuse me... Hi. I know this is forward, but I'm addicted to peeing on people — have been since I was a kid. You don't mind, do you? The health risks are minimal and, I think, unproven. Thanks. Ahhhhh...

(Would that smokers were this polite.)
posted by nicwolff at 12:30 PM on November 21, 2001


we're talking about homes here

bars and clubs have been mentioned in support of the "you're affecting my health!" arguments.

And your point is....

my point is.... neat! (i didn't realize they were all considered mental illness), though i guess i could wonder why you're making a point of saying "it's mental illness!" when even Bereavement is listed under the link you provided. considering the stigma attached to mental illnesses and disorders, it's like you need that to point and say "Look! Smokers as having something wrong with their brains!"
posted by tolkhan at 12:31 PM on November 21, 2001


Norton - show me one scientific study on second hand smoke that proves the health risk in this situation. show me that you will get cancer if your neighbor is a smoker and you have occasional contact with the smoke. Lead paint on an antique teapot on the shelf is a different thing alltogether than an entire room or house covered in lead paint. That is the difference here between me smoking in your house and me smoking on my own property. We're back to externalities. Your car exposes me to toxins, the smoke from my chimney makes you cough while you are shovelling snow. I'm offended and in danger of violating my religious law because your wife doesn't wear a veil and I see her in the yard on the way to work. You think that your children are in danger of corruption because I'm gay and not ashamed to admit it. Life's a bitch, and nobody gets their way all of the time.
posted by hipstertrash at 12:43 PM on November 21, 2001


News flash--car emissions are legally regulated, including fines and so forth.

But either way, that's irrelevant. The issue is not what other contaminants exist, but what gives you the right to introduce this contaminant into another person's home, at any level, against that person's will.

And I'm not saying there aren't any valid defenses, I'm just waiting to hear one. As I stated in the front page blurb, I am conflicted on this.
posted by NortonDC at 12:57 PM on November 21, 2001


This law is a property rights law.
It says keep your smoke on your property. Thats all.
It has nothing to do with freedom or health or big brother. You can do whatever you like in your home.
The ACLU is involved because the law favours people with biger properties (ie. more affluent). Its really not that complicated. Its no diffrent then keeping your dog from crapping in your neighbors lawn.
posted by stbalbach at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2001


This is asinine. There is no scientific instrument sensitive enough to measure the emissions of a cigarette wafting through the walls of one house into another -- and "no", your imagination doesn't count as a scientific instrument. (Where's that link about the state of scientific education in America? All of a sudden that's starting to hit home.)

Did you know "gullible" isn't in the dictionary?
posted by RavinDave at 1:11 PM on November 21, 2001


Norton - the 'defense' here is the same as it is in any case like this ... weighing the damage to my liberty against the probable social benefit. in this case, because the only real social problem is one of inconvenience, unless we're talking about an apartment building with insufficient ventilation. There is simply no evidence that this 'contaminant' is an immediate health threat in and of itself, which brings up another point. Its a tough sell to say that smoke drifting through the air equates to 'introducing a contaminant into another person's home.' If someone were smoking in your home, on your property, aiming a fan at your windows, or doing anything conscious to direct the smoke towards your environment, i can see the point. but smoking, like auto emissions, is legal and regulated. this law can't get around the fact that smoking is a legal activity, and that making it potentially criminal to do so on one's own property is a thinly veiled attempt at defacto prohibition. Because 'contamination' is subjective and non quantifiable, I'm essentially breaking the law every time my neighbor says so. If people want to criminalize smoking, so be it, but until that day comes, any law like this is a violation of my rights.
posted by hipstertrash at 1:14 PM on November 21, 2001


"Society tolerates some externalities and not others, and such tolerance is rarely based on anything but the prejudices of the society in question."

Actually, it's a question of degree, frequency. If you had to smell fireworks smoke every day for an extended period of time from your dwelling, you would have a nuisance claim in court.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:32 PM on November 21, 2001


The level of ignorance in this thread is astonishing. In the first place, of course there are devices which can measure the amount of smoke which goes from Apt. 2R to 3R. And by the way, if it wasn't a serious problem, I would have never known the neighbor smokes (I've never seen him smoke).

Also, the phenomenon regulated by this new law would already we susceptible to a private civil law suit for nuisance. ITS CALLED NUISANCE. And it would also get at obnoxious loud music. It's just that with the new law, I would have more ammunition to confront my landlord (or her son, the smoker) without getting evicted.

If you want to puff with impunity, don't like in an apartment near me. I have the right to quiet enjoyment of my pad.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:44 PM on November 21, 2001


Live in an apartment. See: the smoke is affecting my spelling!
posted by ParisParamus at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2001


Paris - could you not move to a smoke free building? Once again, I ask the question that nobody seems to want to answer ... how is it that the rights of non smokers have primacy over those of smokers? both pay rent, and the smoker is not breaking the law by smoking on his own property. yet the non smoker here gets to make a subjective decision about the smoker's completely law abiding behaviour that could have legal ramifications. another difference between smoking and loud music: if the cops get a complaint and come to inspect the nefarious smoker, and the smoker has extinguished his cigarette, how do they decide if the smoker is in violation of the law? there are so many problems with this legislation.

also, i still kind of doubt your assertion that there are (reliable, useful) devices capable of measuring smoke moving from one property to another, and that such measurments relate directly to a quantifiable health risk (once again, does second hand smoke in these miniscule amounts pose a real, proven danger?). care to offer any evidence for the existence of said device?
posted by hipstertrash at 2:13 PM on November 21, 2001


House != Apartment.
posted by RavinDave at 2:17 PM on November 21, 2001


if i am not permitted to smoke indoors anymore, and now not on the street or in my very own (hypothetical) back yard (yes, why do your property rights automatically trump mine?), where exactly ought i to smoke?

oh, right: to Portugal! let's colonize, and quit having hysterical and self-righteous vitriol spat at us all the flippin' time, smoke in peace for once.

i and most smokers i know try very hard to be considerate, but anti-smokers keep redrawing the lines of unacceptable (prosecutable!) smoker behavior.
posted by Sapphireblue at 3:17 PM on November 21, 2001


Sapphireblue--This law does not stop smoking on your property, it makes the person producing the smoke responsible for keeping it from contaminating the homes of others. hipstertrash has already indicated that he would have his neighbors bear the burden to avoid the smoke he produces, but that's not the way things work. You create the danger, you deal with it.

hipstertrash--What is the damage to your liberty to make you responsible for the smoke you produce?

And there is no such thing as a smoker to the law. There are people that create and release dangerous smoke and people who do not. Being a consumer of cigarettes or other lit tobacco products does not make you legally distinct from anyone else, so the question can not be "Where do smokers' rights start and non-smokers' end?" The question is "What gives you the right to actively pollute my home with toxic chemicals?" None that I've seen so far. Smoke all you want, but contain the toxic, carcinogenic results on your own. Nothing gives you the right to make it someone else's responsibility.
posted by NortonDC at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2001


No, young people *aren't* given much of an idea of how truly harmful even smoking a few cigarettes a day can be, or that "social smoking" can be dangerous.

What planet do YOU live on?? I had the dangers of smoking beaten into me at every opportunity in every venue, and that was way back in the early 80s. The only kids who don't know that smoking is dangerous are those who refuse acknowlege reality when it conflicts with their impulses and desires.
posted by rushmc at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2001


Once again, I ask the question that nobody seems to want to answer ... how is it that the rights of non smokers have primacy over those of smokers?

I'll be happy to answer it: Because there IS no right to inflict harm upon another person. There IS a right not to have harm inflicted upon you. Apples and oranges. YOU'RE the one with the offensive, irrational, self-abusive, inconsiderate, selfish, disgusting habit who chooses to ignore its proven effects upon yourself and others--you are not in the same position as the poor schmuck who just wants to continue breathing the oxygen that his system is designed for.
posted by rushmc at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2001


Smoking doesn't make me mad. The whole 'fuck you, the rules don't apply to me, and who cares how my actions make you feel' attitude does. And that's what this is all about - a disregard for others, a belief that their 'right' to stick a piece of burning weed in their mouth is greater than your right to health and comfort.

My dad smokes. My brother smokes. I enjoy a cigar every now and then. We all have the courtesy to ask before we light up in company, always with the offer to take it outside first and foremost, and always twice. If anybody has a problem, we apologise profusely, and take it outside.

Inflicting your smoke on others is no different to having a couple of pints and then pissing on somebody's leg - it's just secondhand beer, and it's my right to drink, it's all legal, a little bit won't kill you, I'm an alcoholic, it's not my fault, I couldn't wait to get to a toilet, what's the problem? Except nobody ever died from yellow socks.

You wanna smoke? Fine. Just do it away from me. Pull any of that 'fuck you, it's my right' attitude and I'll do what it takes to get you removed. Blow smoke in my face and I'll put you in the fucking hospital.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:03 PM on November 21, 2001


YOU'RE the one with the offensive, irrational, self-abusive, inconsiderate, selfish, disgusting ...

Ok rush, what kind of car do you drive? What kind of power plant produces your electricity? What do you eat? In what country were your clothes made? Do you have any investments with companies that do business in countries with lax labor/ environmental laws? What bank is your money in? Ever spit on the sidewalk? What kind of cleaning products do you use? How is your personal hygine? What kind of soap do you use? Shampoo? Deodorant? Do you have an air conditioner in car and or home? Do you recycle? Ever dispose of household chemicals or motor oil in improper places? Ever have unprotected sex? Ever been drunk in a public place? Do you pick your nose? Ever jaywalk? Ever releive yourself anywhere besides in a toilet? Ever litter? Do you have pets? Ever own or buy diamonds or other precious stones/metals? Speeding tickets? Drugs? How do you dispose of a bloody tissue if you cut yourself? Do you carpool? Public transportation? Ever sneeze and then touch something in a public place without washing your hands? ...

Human beings, intentionally or unintentionally, do harm to themselves, each other, and their environment every single day. EVERYONE, without exception.

Norton - the damage to my liberty? this law makes it IMPOSSIBLE to smoke on my own property unless i live in a completely sealed and insulated environment. in order to stop my smoke from "contaminating" the "airspace," i'd have to live in a biodome. This law is not about basic considerations (as mentioned before, not doing anything to consciosly direct smoke towards the property of another), its about putting an unreasonable burden on people who engage in a legal activity in their own homes to make 100% sure that nobody else will ever have any contact with the same air that has come into contact with the lit end of a cigarette, an entirely unrealistic proposition. it is, as i said before, defacto prohibition.

Pass a law to make smoking illegal or leave me the hell alone on my own property. As has been pointed out multiple times in this thread, nuisance laws exist far beyond montgomery county, and if a person feels that they are being unreasonably exposed to second hand smoke, they can utilize these laws to seek recourse. An extra law that mentions cigarette smoke specifically is persecution, plain and simple.

I swear, the anti-smoking brigade reminds me of nothing so much as millitant pro-lifers ...

obiwanwasabi - I hope that I run into you in a bar some day.
posted by hipstertrash at 4:55 PM on November 21, 2001


This law does not stop smoking on your property, it makes the person producing the smoke responsible for keeping it from contaminating the homes of others.

No. That is (of course) exactly the intent. It's only the latest iteration and if it wasn't smoke magically jumping from one house to another, it would be: fire hazard, effect on neighborhood children, or some PhD from PCU would concoct a theory that "tar" attracts termites into the neighborhood. The pretext doesn't matter (and this one is particularly flimsy). It's just another anal-retentive song and dance.

Anemic protests to the contrary notwithstanding, the anti-smoking Taliban have shown their cards too many times. They are the frustrated Ahabs on the ass end of every social issue -- but (by God!) this is one whale that's not getting away! Oh, they are still obliged to cloak their hysterics in pseudo-scientific gibberish (Oh! Smoke from your house is passing through 12 insulated walls and 80,000 cubic feet of air to expose me to thoracic cooties!), since they desparately want to appear to be the reasonable ones. But they have rejected reasonable compromises in the past -- there is no reason to assume they've gained IQ points in the interim.

Example: restaurants that cater specifically to smokers are a perfectly reasonable compromise. Big flashing sign on the door: "Smoking Allowed" to warn off those who, (unlike some shrill would-be nannies here) don't possess the mystical ability to smell it from across the street. We'll even limit it to 1 out of every 20, so non-smokers can have 95% of'em (though most all will serve alcohol, ironicaly). Reasonable? Of course. Acceptable? No. Because the object isn't to really accomodate non-smokers -- it's to harass smokers. Pure and simple.

Ya know ... as much as I despise the current rightwing Supreme Court, I'm very much tempted to sit back in silence when Shrub nominates his next rubber stamp. (And I guarantee I'm more liberal than 90% of the poseurs here who confuse liberalism with policital correctness.) I really hate to see it come to that, but I can console myself with the knowledge that this sort of ultra-PC jack-assery won't pass SCOTUS muster.
posted by RavinDave at 5:31 PM on November 21, 2001


hipstertrash--I just wrote a meaty and well supported reply and erased it because it focused on you instead of what you wrote.

To try keep the point while not letting it be personal:

It is possible to consume tobacco products (lit and unlit) without contaminating the air in neighboring homes. It is. It may not be easy. That potential difficulty doesn't matter. Even if it was impossible, that still would not absolve the creator of the toxic smoke of the responsibility to protect the public from the toxic results of his unnecessary actions.

Nothing in this law is about "persecuting" people who smoke. It is all about protecting people's homes from exposure to toxic chemicals. I could go into why that might not be immediately apparent to all participants here, but that would make it personal.
posted by NortonDC at 5:59 PM on November 21, 2001


Dave - amen

and jack-assery ... i like that ...
posted by hipstertrash at 6:01 PM on November 21, 2001


(though most all will serve alcohol, ironicaly)

Yeah, all of that alcohol floating through the air and burning my sinuses, making my clothes stink...
posted by bargle at 7:17 PM on November 21, 2001


obiwanwasabi - I hope that I run into you in a bar some day.

Sorry Bob - I try to avoid drinking with fruitloop ex-pat Kiwi psychopaths with a self-admitted Peter Pan complex, deep-seated anger management issues and body fluid fetishes.

There, nortondc - that should be personal enough for the both of us :)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:22 PM on November 21, 2001


(though most all will serve alcohol, ironicaly).

And ironically, those who drink too much and become abusive will be arrested, fined and/or jailed. Ditto for those who are drunk in a public place. Or for those who drive while drunk. In short, as soon as their drinking becomes a problem for others, they get their arses kicked.

Did you have some sort of point to make about the disparity between the treatment of people who make their smoking a problem for others and those who do the same with their drinking? It would be contrary to the rest of your 'I'm so much more liberal than the rest of you pinko Commie lesbo peacenik fags, and you can take my Marlboro when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers' daitribe, so I'm a little confused.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:38 PM on November 21, 2001


The simple fact is that alcohol related maladies take up more hospital beds and impact more people than smoking does. But I'm not going to dwell on the issue and I have no argument with people who drink. But I would like to warn them that they're next after smokers on the PC hit parade.
posted by RavinDave at 8:30 PM on November 21, 2001


I want a law passed that stops motor vehicles from driving past my house due to the polution they create. I do not want the shit that comes out of their exhaust systems anywhere near my property.

The above is the same argument all the non-smokers in this thread keep rehashing, except the argument is about cigarettes.
posted by Zool at 8:52 PM on November 21, 2001


In no particular order:

"smoking is legal" So was slavery. This is not a defense against a claim that smoking harms me. Point: Legal != right.

"There has been smoking in our society for thousands of years, therefore I am entitled to smoke." See above. There had been slavery in our society for a long time, ditto with the burning of widows in India. Point: Tradition != right.

Zool: Not quite the same. Asthetically, tobacco smells worse (or at least stronger) than auto exhaust. In addition, the stuff coming out of the back of my brother's Honda is far less concentrated than what comes off the end of my boss's cigarette (Note: I do not have anything besides a hunch to back up this last claim). Also, I'm fairly sure that what comes off a cigarette is worse, particle for particle, than what comes out of a car (not sure at all about busses and big rigs)

hipstertrash: Could the liberty question be framed "Why does my right to enjoy a tobacco-smoke-free environment rate as lower than your right to smoke tobacco?" Or "What is the balance between person A's desire/right to smoke tobacco and person B's desire/right to not be bothered by tobacco smoke?" Note that this draws no reference to farts, perfume or rock music.

Non-smokers: Does it bother you if a smoker goes to a place where nobody cares about smoke and lights up? Or if they smoke in their home but you can't smell it?

Smokers: How many of you want to continue smoking? How many want to quit?

Everybody: What if pot were constantly smoked in public and tobacco was hidden? would this change your feelings on either one of them? (one reason I have no problem with pot is that I don't find my self forcibly exposed to it).

cCranium and daveadams: Excellent stuff. Everybody should be so considerate. And it would be nice if nobody had a problem asking a smoker not to smoke around them.


Dealing with friends who smoke is easy "Hey, could you please not smoke in my car..." or "I`ve got to go; the smoke is getting to me." Dealing with strangers is another story. You can't just walk up to them and say "how can I get you to stop smoking." You can't even say "I care about you; please stop," that would just be weird.

I guess the point is that I wish there were a way to reduce smoking in general (or be able to go about my daily life without having to deal with it). Any thoughts?
posted by chiheisen at 9:13 PM on November 21, 2001


The above is the same argument all the non-smokers in this thread keep rehashing, except the argument is about cigarettes.

No, it's not, although saying that it is seems to be the only argument the pro-'I'll smoke where I damn well feel like it' crowd seem to have.

Firstly, it isn't true. While I really don't want you to smoke near me, the truth you couldn't give a flying fsck at a rolling donut about car exhaust. You're just throwing it up as an illogical conclusion to a weak argument.

Secondly, the government acknowledges the risks of danger from car exhaust, which is why having anti-pollution gear on your car is compulsory (at least, it is here). It makes no such requirements for smokers at the moment. Driving around in a car with exhaust problems? You get a fine, and a notice requiring you to fix it or get your arse off the road. If you had to smoke with anti-pollution gear fitted to your head (say, a plastic bubble), and got a fine if you didn't, I wouldn't be complaining.

RavinDave - what do you mean drinkers are next? You can only drink in certain places, during certain hours, and your actions while drinking are restricted. If your drinking poses a problem for others - whammo, slammer. You can drink in your home whenever you want, but you can't puke your guts up all over your neighbour's porch, piss on their geraniums, or wander around naked in the street in front of your house singing about goblins. All this law is doing is applying the same rules to smokers - and about time too.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:26 PM on November 21, 2001


My only complaint about this law it is discriminatory because it is not completely inclusive.
Friends moved from their apartment because of the cigarette smoke. Another friend moved because of her neighbour's raucous all-hours stereo (she lived in a co-op and served on the board of directors!). One affects the mind, the other the body; the boundary is porous. My vote: stereos equal smoke.
Does this county enforce allergens from adjecent apartments? A friend has a serious latex allergy: she an only rent in a house because it is a little difficult to monitor, say, fifty apartment dwellers for painting a wall (not to mention the snickers and misinterpretations that it's a come-on). What if your neighbour who fries the food in peanut oil or cooks fish and you have an allergy?
Ciggy smoke is a carcinogen and an irritant, but peanut oil and latex can lead to anaphylactic shock.
My opinion is go all the way or don't bother at all.
posted by philfromhavelock at 9:56 PM on November 21, 2001


There, nortondc - that should be personal enough for the both of us :)

obiwan - yep, that's me, brought to you by the wonders of the internet. A couple of corrections, though: its Rob, not Bob, and I'm an American in the process of moving to NZ, not the other way around. Anything else you'd like to know? I'm an open book, in case your massive web surfing prowess didn't turn up enough dirt for you.
posted by hipstertrash at 10:00 PM on November 21, 2001


philfromhavelock--Allergies are due to individual immunodeficiency defects (including my own particular set). The toxicity of tobacco smoke is independent of individual defects. It is wrong to parallel the two.
posted by NortonDC at 10:12 PM on November 21, 2001


obiwan - one more thing. I don't spend my spare time ferreting around for personal info on individuals involved in a debate on an internet discussion forum, much less bring such information into play on said forum for the purpose of . . . what, I'm not exactly sure. Thus, I'm a bit perplexed as to how I'm the psychopath here. Lighten up, buddy, and get some perspective. Its just words on a screen.
posted by hipstertrash at 10:27 PM on November 21, 2001


Dealing with friends who smoke is easy "Hey, could you please not smoke in my car..." or "I`ve got to go; the smoke is getting to me." Dealing with strangers is another story. You can't just walk up to them and say "how can I get you to stop smoking." You can't even say "I care about you; please stop," that would just be weird.

I have to disagree with the friend part. Two former friends of mine smoked and they expected me to hang out with them while they smoked despite the fact that they knew that smoke always made me very sick. AND they always had hissy fits because they could not smoke in my car. Eventually I found that the only solution was to stop being friends with them, since they seemed to think that my refusal to hang around them while they smoked was some sort of horrible insult.

As for strangers, I don't give a shit if people smoke at a restaurant or club that allows it. I can avoid those places and so the smoke is not going to bother me and I do not care if some random person I have never known dies because they wanted to smoke either. It's their business to smoke in a private place and if they want to take the risk, more power to them. I do care when someone smokes in a situation where I have no choice but to be around that smoke.

Of course a lot of apartment complexes around here do not allow smoking and the only stadiums/arenas that I frequent have banned it as well, so it works out quite well. I might feel differently if I lived in an area where a smokefree place of residence might not be so easy to find.
posted by bargle at 10:45 PM on November 21, 2001


I've had a new perspective on all of this since I was diagnosed with asthma recently. I used to be able to go to clubs (in fact, I was a singer in a band -- spent way too much time in smoky rock clubs), eat in smoky restaurants, etc. I hated the smell, but at that time it *was* an aesthetic issue.

Then last Christmas, while on vacation in southern California, I found myself in an urgent care clinic, unable to breathe. That was the first sign of a problem, though I think I had mild symptoms for some time before that. Since then I've gone to one club show. It was smoky, and I used my inhaler and tried to get outside for fresh air whenever possible. I had a serious asthma attack which made me ill for about a week. Exposure to smoke since has reliably caused me breathing problems.

This is not an aesthetic issue for me any more. Asthma can kill. Mine is relatively mild, but it already costs me (and my insurance company) a substantial amount of money in medication and doctor visits. (My current asthma medication would cost around $230/month if we didn't have a co-pay.) I have never smoked myself, not even once. But I was around family members who did.

Just a small amount of smoke is enough to act as a "trigger" for an asthma attack. So now I stay away from smoky restaurants and clubs. This means I may never be able to sing in a band again. I may never be able to see some of my favorite bands play -- I have no choice but to see them in smoky clubs. It's not like there's a smoke/no smoke option when a band comes to Seattle on tour. I resent this, and I feel justified in my resentment.

I have no problem with smokers smoking in their own homes. I support the right of people to make those choices for themselves. But every time smoke gets in my lungs, I run the risk of serious illness. It is the smoker's responsibility to make sure that his smoke doesn't reach people who have a problem with it. I just don't see why that's a problem. It's the same as when I had band practice in my apartment. I had the right to play music if I wanted, but as soon as it caused a problem with the neighbors, it was my responsibility to be quieter. And the cops would show up to enforce it if I didn't. It was NOT at all the neighbor's responsibility to noise-proof. And noise isn't even generally a health issue, unlike smoking!

The other day a bunch of us planned to meet at a restaurant we had heard good things about. We walked in and were hit with a strong stench of smoke. We walked out in a split second, and then had to stand around and decide where to go next. I hate that! I feel like a jerk for causing inconvenience to my friends. But I have no choice now. This is my life now and probably forever.

I was waiting in line for Harry Potter -- so I was stuck in place -- and the group of people in front of me started smoking. Please, smokers, if you care considerate, don't smoke in line! We can't move away without losing our place in line!

Anyway, if a smoker ever did ask "is it all right if I smoke," I would say no, but I would be very apologetic. I don't want to be mean and self-righteous to them. But, you know, most of the time they don't ask.

Just a portrait of my life -- a glimpse into why some of us are so concerned about this issue. I wish that people could discuss this without so many people taking it personally, but it's obviously something many feel strongly about.
posted by litlnemo at 1:40 AM on November 22, 2001


I think a wider problem with asthma in this debate is that, in my untrained medical opinion, it hasn't been *caused* by the popularity of smoking in the 20th Century. More likely the rise of asthma has to do with our society's general changes in diet, or pollution, or maybe something more odd like electricity pylons or synthesised hormones in the water supply or even increased cleanliness and hygiene.

Smoke is just a trigger for asthma. We've got all these other health/ environmental problems to deal with in law as well.
posted by skylar at 3:06 AM on November 22, 2001


That was an amusing read. I'm thrilled to have learned that farts can kill.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:20 AM on November 22, 2001


Well, asthma is a bigger issue, yeah. IIRC, they don't even know for sure if more people are getting it, or if it's just that more people are being diagnosed. And no one has even the slightest clue what causes it, other than that there does seem to be a genetic tendency to get it and that it's often found along with allergies. (Oddly, I don't have much of an allergy problem.)

There are a ton of different things that trigger asthma in different people, too. Smoke seems to be one of the most common, but it's not at all universal as far as I know.

The reason I wanted to mention the asthma (and there were several other people who posted on the thread who probably felt the same way) is that I want the smokers to understand that we aren't all just being assholes about this. We don't complain about smoking because we want to prevent others from having fun. We complain about it because we have a real, personal, recurring acquaintance with its health effects. (I didn't mention that my grandma, a lifelong smoker, died a couple of years ago from emphysema. But there is that, too. Many people here have mentioned losing family members to smoking-related illnesses. Another relative of mine currently has asthma, terrifyingly high blood pressure, four kids with varying degrees of asthma including one who gets a trip to the ER every month or two because he's turning blue from lack of air, and yet she smokes like a chimney. I can't even set foot in her house when she's NOT smoking, anymore, because the air is so unclean. What kind of a drug is this that causes such irrationality on her part, that she would do such damage to her children's health, not to mention her own? If cigarettes are that addictive, I swear, anyone connected with the tobacco industry should burn in hell. There's just no moral justification for selling it.)

I don't object to others smoking and doing damage to their *own* lungs, as long as the smoke doesn't touch mine or anyone else's who doesn't want to breathe it. I do my best to stay away from it and other things that can cause trouble for me, but it is damned hard sometimes. I wish it was easier. I want to be free to go the places I used to go.
posted by litlnemo at 5:47 AM on November 22, 2001


Human beings, intentionally or unintentionally, do harm to themselves, each other, and their environment every single day.

Did you have a point, or were you just seeing how many non sequiturs you could string together? The above statement, while certainly true, does not constitute carte blanche for people to actively abuse their health and be commended or admired for it.

Put another way, If I habitually carve words into my arm with a knife, the fact that millions of people smoke does not make me any less of a dumb fuck.
posted by rushmc at 7:45 AM on November 22, 2001


Dumb fuck or not -- it's not anyone else's business if you want to do it. That's your decision and your right.

I find your statement curiously revealing of the "smazi" mindset. For all the hollow rhetoric and self-delusion to the contrary, it really does come down to controlling the behavior of other people -- even when it only effects them. This week is smoking, then we'll move on to booze and fatty foods.
posted by RavinDave at 7:57 AM on November 22, 2001


No, RavinDave, since this law does not prevent people from smoking and it does nothing until the smoke contaminates the home of someone other than the person that created it, your statement ignores every factual aspect of this conversation. Congratulations.

The only behavior of others it attempts to control is if one person forces their smoke on others, in the others' home and against their will.

Each person is free to smoke, and they are held responsible for what they produce. There is no contradiction.
posted by NortonDC at 8:26 AM on November 22, 2001


Norton, you keep repeating this chestnut. Earlier, you phrased it:

"Nothing in this law is about "persecuting" people who smoke. It is all about protecting people's homes from exposure to toxic chemicals."

You wanna know why this makes me uncomfortable? It's the same rhetorical trick used by other special interest groups to grease the wheels of their agenda:

Nothing in this law is about "persecuting" people who have abortions. It is all about protecting people's right to block doors to legal clinics and harass women trying to enter.

Nothing in this law is about "persecuting" people who perform abortions. It is all about protecting patients by demanding that the doctor possess more medical equipment than the Mayo Clinc.

Nothing in this law is about "persecuting" people who support abortion. It is all about protecting people's dignity by defining "personhood" as occuring at the moment of conception.

Bottom line. You don't know if I'm smoking in my house. Period. Show me the scientific studies. Show me the mythical contraption that can detect this through a dozen insulated walls in two houses and the intervening yard.
Show me proof that isn't anecdotal haragues from hypochondriacs. Show me evidence that doesn't depend on 1 in 10,000 circumstances (I knew a friend of a friend of a friend whose bedroom window was two feet from the kitchen of a convent). Show me a blind test where hypersenstive whiners can consistantly pick out the houses of smokers (from outside) in strange neighborhoods. Show me why any theoretical transgression isn't already covered by existing nuisance laws. Show me that there's a friggin' problem.

Surely, that's not asking too much before you dance a kazatzky on the rights of others. The burden of proof is on the affirmative.
posted by RavinDave at 9:19 AM on November 22, 2001


Try for a post that doesn't involve abortion or Nazis and it might merit a serious response.
posted by NortonDC at 10:26 AM on November 22, 2001


You don't know if I'm smoking in my house. Period.

If there is no detectable smoke coming from your house, then you are being a good neighbor, and the law does not affect you, does it? The law targets people who are inconsiderate.

I can call the cops on my upstairs neighbors for "disturbing the peace" if they play their stereo loudly. The fact that I like this law doesn't mean I want to outlaw people playing their stereos at all, it merely means I want people to acknowledge the fact that they are living in a building with a dozen or so other families, including me, and to behave accordingly. Some people already understand this; others are dumb enough to need an occasional reminder. I really don't see this law as being much different, except that cigarette smoke is an actual health hazard in addition to being just plain annoying.

Bottom line: If your smoking is not causing a problem for others, this law says you're welcome to do it. If on the other hand you are dumb enough to require reminding that other people exist, well, hopefully a $750 fine will suffice.
posted by kindall at 10:47 AM on November 22, 2001


rush - its not about commending or admiring, its about putting smoking into context, and dropping the irrational and unbearably self-righteous indignation. Smoker and non smoker both inflict harm through their everyday choices and actions. A car driving by my house and someone smoking are a perfect analogy, because both have been defined here as 'pollution.' Pollutants are an every day part of life; the quality of life part of this argument is simply not valid. We're not talking about putting factory smokestacks in residential neighborhoods. Or, to paraphrase what someone said earlier, "you can call the cops if your neighbor is having a loud party, but not if he is snoring." Or, if people want to live in a completely pollutant free environment where they have the absolute right to control every single detail of what goes on around them, buy a large plot of land in the middle of the country and build some high walls. You don't have to like the fact that smoking is legal and a part of this society, but it is, and society has made compromises (more and more smoke free public areas) to accomodate those who didn't like the status quo. But until smoking is criminalized, you can expect that people will smoke where they live, and you can expect that we won't all be erecting plastic bubbles around our residences.

Norton - dave's abortion comparison was valid, because both pro-lifers and anti-smokers know that they have little chance of making the activities they oppose illegal. So they both go in through the back door, pursuing restriction after restriction, whittling at the tree because they can't chop it down.
posted by hipstertrash at 10:51 AM on November 22, 2001


kindall, or anyone - define causing a problem, because many of the attitudes here seem absolute. The way I am interpreting this law and how many people here are interpreting this law, the faintest whiff of smoke would be a violation. Its not about how loud my stereo is, its about someone else being able to hear it at all, even at the lowest volumes.

If this is the case, I'm wondering if many of the supporters here are just being dense, or if they know full well that it is virtually impossible to control airborne smoke to the extent required by this law, and that is exactly why they are supporting it.
posted by hipstertrash at 10:58 AM on November 22, 2001


kindall: Bottom line: If your smoking is not causing a problem for others, this law says you're welcome to do it.

hipstertrash (and I) have already explained how this is thinly veiled pretext, the ulterior motive of which is to incrimentally prohibit smoking altogether. What the law "says" and what it "intends" are not the same thing. We know this is a common tactic of special interest groups who lack the clout to railroad their agenda through congress in one swell foop.

Unlike stereos, there is no realistic way to tell if smoke from my living room is somehow wafting into your pantry (maybe it's a neighbor on the other side, maybe it's from passing motorists, maybe you have an overactive imagination). This makes it the perfect vehicle for abuse -- a wonderful way for misanthropic nannies to legally hound their neighbor: "Officer, Officer! I think he's doing it again. Can you please come by and investigate? Yes, I know it's 2:00 am, but it's the law. Are you going to enforce it?"
posted by RavinDave at 11:31 AM on November 22, 2001


Has anyone here actually read the wording of the law to know if it can be used in these "worst case scenario" methods? We already know that the enforcement of the law will not be left to police but to environmental protection agencies, which rather eliminates the idea of 2:00 a.m. phone calls for immediate action, in fact, rather eliminates the idea of immediate action at all. It seems more geared toward situations as the one mathowie described early in the thread -- when smoke from a neighbour, especially in an apartment building, creates a continued nuisance or health problem. We've debated this thing to death without even knowing how it will be applied -- proving that MeFites can generate 200 posts arguing over general principles, but little else.
posted by Dreama at 1:58 PM on November 22, 2001


Dreama, excellent suggestion!

The Montgomery County Council website has a one-page fact sheet, in addition to the 30-page package of amendments to their Air Quality Code.
posted by Carol Anne at 2:12 PM on November 22, 2001


hipstertrash--I would have rather emailed some of this directly to you, but since you've not seen fit to make an email address available in your profile, I can't.

First of all, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're playing with the fire of Godwin's Law out of ignorance. Since you've refused to take the very strong hint proffered to RavinDave, I'll go ahead and point out exactly why it's complete bullshit in this case: unless you can support the proposition that, legally, neighbors are not full people entitled to fourteenth amendment protections, there is absolutely nothing shared between the legal issues of abortion and this law.

Nothing.

And only the legal issues are under discussion here. Anything else, especially motivations, gets into assumptions of personal issues, which I have taken great pains to avoid. I suggest you do the same.

Regarding your assertions on noise laws, know this: here the threshold for a noise violation is if the cops can hear any noise, any, from the property line once there's been a complaint, it's a violation. Kinda reminds me of something...
posted by NortonDC at 7:08 PM on November 22, 2001


Norton - Given the cultural climate surrounding the issue, why are motivations or larger trends out of bounds here? I think that people are perfectly justified in questioning the implications of this or any law, and intent versus letter of the law. Its no secret that a large portion of those individuals who support these kinds of laws have very strong opinions both on smoking and the tobacco industry, and have a sociopolitical interest in this beyond the exact proceedings of a governmental body in Maryland.

Do you think that smoking got banned in California bars and restaurants because of the plight of the poor waitresess and bartenders? That was one of the main legal arguments behind the law, protecting the staff of such establishments. Since when does the rank and file of the food service industry have that kind of political clout?

The bottom line is that Dave and I are perfectly justified in arguing our points outside of the strict legal issues, but you don't want the debate expanded to that level because such expansion weakens your argument and exposes the dirtier side of this 'service to the public health.' Whether we're talking the politics of tobacco, the nature of externalities within society, the protection of civil liberties and intrusive government, or the truth of the science surrounding second hand smoke, this law raises some important and not-so-pretty questions. Only when you take the spin of Montgomery County officials at face value does this seem completely innocent and justifiable.
posted by hipstertrash at 7:28 PM on November 22, 2001


Motivations are out of bounds because you do not and can not know them. You will never know that you know someone else's true motivations. Facing one's own true motivations is beyond the abilities of close enough to everyone to chalk up the rest to counting error. Knowing any one else's is a fantasy. Arguing them is idiocy.
posted by NortonDC at 8:22 PM on November 22, 2001


I find your statement curiously revealing of the "smazi" mindset.

Read again, and note that the "and" is key.
posted by rushmc at 9:31 PM on November 22, 2001


Dumb fuck or not -- it's not anyone else's business if you want to do it. That's your decision and your right.

Sure, until you turn your knife on your neighbors.
posted by rushmc at 9:32 PM on November 22, 2001


its about putting smoking into context, and dropping the irrational and unbearably self-righteous indignation

I guess we shall have to agree to disagree, because it seems quite clear to me that the "irrationality" is on the part of those who pretend that smoking isn't harmful to themselves and to those others to whom they expose it, simply because they are slaves of an addiction. I will always be indignant over people who presume the right to cause me injury and/or suffering.
posted by rushmc at 9:35 PM on November 22, 2001


rush - look back at my list of 'non sequitors' ... the point was that the attention given to smoking as a cause of 'injury and/or suffering,' the blind singularity with which it is often attacked, is myopic in the extreme.

I've never claimed that my actions do not harm myself and others, merely that my brand of harm is in most cases no better or worse than anyone elses. That doesn't make it right, but it does not justifiy fanatical legal and social persecution. Or: let he who is without sin cast the first stone, or in this case file the first complaint in Montgomery County.
posted by hipstertrash at 11:15 PM on November 22, 2001


Norton - what about lateral/critical thinking, analyzing the evidence and/or larger societal trends? I don't have to read the minds of county council members to grasp the implications of this ordinance. Benefit of the doubt, some/ all of them could be robotically sincereand above board, making this decision in a vacuum, totally disinterested in the larger issues at hand. But go back to what Dave said about the potential for abuse here. Are you going to tell me that, because I don't have a meaningful, personal relationship with every single resident of Montgomery County, that framing this debate in terms of the larger cultural climate is not a valid argument? Is Maryland some kind of idyllic sitcom oasis where we can assume that human nature is such that nobody is a bad guy until Andy and Barney round them up and throw them in the stoney lonesome for a night to teach 'em a lesson? Or is Maryland part of the real world, where i don't need telepathy to understand social context?
posted by hipstertrash at 11:26 PM on November 22, 2001


FACT SHEET Bill 17-01, Air Quality Control Amendments
Q: What is this legislation about?
A: The bill is a comprehensive revision of the County’s 25-year-old clean air law. One new provision authorizes the County to join a growing number of federal, state and local environmental protection agencies that are trying to protect people from hazardous indoor, as well as outdoor, air pollutants, such as asbestos, radon, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, bacteria or molds.
Q: How and why does the bill ban smoking?
A: It doesn’t. The indoor air quality provision does not even mention smoking. The original version of the bill submitted to the Council would have given special treatment to smoking, by exempting it from the indoor air quality rules. The Council simply removed the special treatment for smoking.
Q: Can I still smoke in my own home?
A: Of course. The bill does not regulate indoor air quality in your own home. The County may get involved only if they receive a complaint that a dangerous substance from one property is causing indoor air pollution in another property. Environmental tobacco smoke will be treated no differently than any other air pollutant.
Q: What happens if my neighbor complains about my smoking?
A: If the County finds evidence that the smoke actually presents a health hazard to your neighbor, you may have to take steps to keep your smoke from entering your neighbor’s home, such as using a “smokeless” ashtray or room air cleaner. If you live in an apartment building, your landlord may have to fix the ventilation if that’s the source of the problem.
Q: Why regulate indoor air quality?
A: Studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants can be 25 to 100 times higher than outdoor levels. EPA ranks indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental health risks.
Q: Doesn’t this interfere with some people’s rights?
A: No. It only applies when someone’s right to smoke affects their neighbor’s health. Local laws often protect residents from dangers or nuisances from neighbors, such as noise, dangerous animals and vehicle parking. The County’s goal is to avoid or fix problems, not punish people. The County will implement this legislation first through education, then through complaint resolution, and only as a last resort by taking enforcement action.
Q: Where can I get a copy of the bill?
A: At the County Council website, www.co.mo.md.us/council. More information about the County’s clean air program is available from the County Department of Environmental Protection, (240) 777-7700 or www.co.mo.md.us/dep.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:06 AM on November 23, 2001


this has just made me realise i didn't have a cigarette at lunch.

and now I want one.

thanks.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:13 AM on November 23, 2001


I've never claimed that my actions do not harm myself and others, merely that my brand of harm is in most cases no better or worse than anyone elses.

It never ceases to amaze me, the logical contortions that addicts will create in their denial of their basic problem. So, if I'm a serial killer (hey, don't knock it till you've tried it!), then that's okay, because many more people get killed by automobiles or household accidents or secondhand smoke, and since it's all hopeless to do anything about any of it, and death is inevitable anyway, there is not sufficient cause to infringe MY right to pursue happiness and make me stop interfering with others' lives in this manner.

It just don't compute.
posted by rushmc at 7:48 AM on November 23, 2001


hipstertrash--Everything you posit about the Montgomery County legislature's motives may be true, but other people would have to balance that possibility against the fact those arguments are coming from an addict who thinks his fix is threatened.

Now do you see why arguing motives won't help you?
posted by NortonDC at 8:55 AM on November 23, 2001


rush, we're not talking about serial killers. or rapists, or child molesters. we're talking about cigarette smoking, and if you can't see the difference, i'm afraid that your loss of perspective trumps anything that goes on in the mind of a smoker.

Norton - it ain't smack. yes, nicotine fits the scientific definition of a drug, but that does not mean my mind resembles some 1950's drug education film. I'm a rational human being with the ability to make choices. i can operate heavy machinery and you can even take me out in public. see my comments to rush. if you think that my entire argument here is based on some deranged and drug induced paranoid hallucination, than your thought paterns as well trump anything that goes on when nicotine crosses the blood brain barrier.
posted by hipstertrash at 10:15 AM on November 23, 2001


hipstertrash--You are an addict. Perhaps an addict can be rational about many things, but pretty much by definition, an addict can not be rational about their addiction.

Did you read those definitions? Words like "obsession" and "compulsion" keep coming up. Those preclude the possibility of reason when it comes to the object of the obsession and compulsion.

And as far as trying to minimize it by comparing it to heroin, that won't help much. As far back as 1988 the Surgeon General reported that tobacco is as addictive as heroin. And I can easily dismiss any attempts by you to refute that as an irrational defensiveness brought on by the compulsion to protect your addiction.

Abandon arguments that depend upon discerning other people's motives or measuring them against your own, hipstertrash. Such arguments will never serve you, especially when the topic is the object of your own obsessive compulsion, your addiction.
posted by NortonDC at 11:21 AM on November 23, 2001


I have a hard time taking seriously anyone who was stupid enough to start smoking and too weak to quit.
posted by websavvy at 11:30 AM on November 23, 2001


... an addict can not be rational about their addiction

Of course, a zealot can be rational about their cause, though, right? Buzzwords like "obsession" and "compulsion" apply there as well.

Quit being such a condescending twit. (He must have you rattled.) The arguments he has posed stand on their own legs. Address those instead of avoiding the sound points he makes with an ad hominem circumstantial fallacy.

If a religious group which has continually been thwarted in their attempts to get prayer into public schools, suddenly proffers "moment of silence" legislation, what is more reasonable to conclude? That they are compromising individuals seeking a happy medium or that they are trying to slip their original agenda in through the back door incrementally? The arguments are no different with the anti-smoking zealots. We're not pulling fantasies out of our ass -- we can rely on history.
posted by RavinDave at 12:07 PM on November 23, 2001


hipstertrash (and I) have already explained how this is thinly veiled pretext, the ulterior motive of which is to incrimentally prohibit smoking altogether.

You have explained it if and only if by "explained" you mean "stated a proposition without support as though it were an obvious and indisputable fact even though it is no such thing." To me, your statement sounds like either a paranoid delusion, or desperate tobacco industry shilling. I'm not saying it is, but you might want to work on ways to say it that don't make you sound like a paranoid.
posted by kindall at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2001


This is not like some illuminati secret plan, kindall. Most of the major players involved on a national level are very up front about their intent and tactics. Read the A.S.H. website. They fully comprehend the effectiveness of incrementalism. They understand stealth legislation and bruit it as an effective tool. So, don't pretend their ulterior motives are a product of our imagination. They've shown their cards on this and earlier releated issues:

Blah-blah-blah, the Friendship Height ordinance is not a radical and unprecedented extension of clean indoor air legislation to cover outdoor areas, but an incremental extension of protections already in place in many jurisdictions blah-blah-blah.

Norton's original Washington Post link had an illuminating sub-link on the Friendship Heights region -- one increment ago -- when they were working to ban smoking on any outdoor public property. (Now forget about whether the idea is good or bad. That's not the point here. My sole intent in this message is support the point that they engage in the same tactics hipstertrash and I exposed earlier. There's no reason to assume they'll act any differently now. There's no paranoid delusion involved. They have a "public record" of such tactics so we are wholley justified in pointing that out.)

Here's the sub-link from December 2000. These are the same nannies a year ago. Particularly interesting were these comments (emphasis often added):

"If approved, the measure could make Friendship Heights ground zero in the ever-escalating fight against tobacco, and could also enhance Montgomery County's reputation as a community with a penchant for controlling public behavior ... "

"'We're trying to change the social norm,' Muller said."

"'It is obnoxious and discriminatory to continuously harass and hassle that part of the adult population,' he said."

"The proposal is for the smokers, too, Muller said. 'This is a way to discourage them from smoking'." (I love this example -- an EXPLICIT declaration of a covert agenda.)

One last point (sorry to turn this into MetaNovel). Several anti-smoking cheerleaders will now feel the urge to pop in and say: "So? These are great ideas." I will say to them in advance that your aversion to tobacco is duly noted, but purpose of this message is not to debate that -- it is merely defending remarks we made earlier that other said were unjustified speculation and paranoia.
posted by RavinDave at 2:44 PM on November 23, 2001


Like I said before, idiocy.

You do not know my or anyone else's true motives, it would not be relevant if you did. The law and its consistency or inconsistency with existing legal precepts are what matter. Seeing that the only change in the law is to remove an inconsistency, it would take much to convince me that this is out of legal bounds.

Much that you have not provided.

The name-calling and flailing about serve only to convince me that you lack substantive legal grounds to question the law. You've contributed nothing to the consideration of the law's legal support and correctness.
posted by NortonDC at 5:12 PM on November 23, 2001


Norton - do you believe that, so long as an action is taken 'within legal bounds,' it is automatically the correct thing to do? Or that if a law is worded in such a way to pass muster in the courts, that one ought to support that law unconditionally? Since when was it the duty of an informed citizenry to say 'well, they crossed the t's and dotted the i's, so it must be for the best.' I'm still perplexed as to how social context is dilatory in this instance, other than the fact that it is inconvenient to your argument.
posted by hipstertrash at 6:00 PM on November 23, 2001


My god, I go and have some freaking turkey, and this thread doubles in size. I love it. And the fact that hipstertrash has supplied no fresh arguments since my last post.
posted by adampsyche at 6:37 PM on November 23, 2001


Look, if someone lets their lawn fill up with dog crap to the extent that it becomes a nuisance or health hazard to others, the cops can make them clean it up, even if the offending doggy doo is entirely on their side of the fence from the neighbors. I really don't see why holding smokers to the same standard is so onerous. After all, secondhand tobacco smoke is every bit as disgusting as secondhand dog crap odor, and probably more of a health hazard.

The slippery slope argument is an old one. Sometimes it turns out that things do slide down the slope, sometimes it doesn't. I don't see how this particular law necessarily leads to an overall ban on all smoking, even if that's what some of its advocates say they want.
posted by kindall at 6:49 PM on November 23, 2001


my point is.... neat! (i didn't realize they were all considered mental illness), though i guess i could wonder why you're making a point of saying "it's mental illness!" when even Bereavement is listed under the link you provided. considering the stigma attached to mental illnesses and disorders, it's like you need that to point and say "Look! Smokers as having something wrong with their brains!"

The pro-harm party here seems to keep doing the same thing, and that is point to things outside of the issue to bolster their "right to harm". What you read was the DSM IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Metal Disorders. Kitchen tested, mother approved, the standard for diagnosing mental disorders. There are all kinds of mental afflictions, ya know, and just because they are all considered mental afflictions does not mean that naming a couple will diminish the fact that they are, in fact, mental afflictions. How could slow-motion suicide be anything but a mental affliction? Geez, I can tell you that when I smoked, I came up with all kinds of reasons to justify it, and none of them held up then, and they don't hold up now for those who want to victimize others' property.

The pro-harm party here points to car emmissions, to all kinds of other things, and doesn't keep to the topic. Sure, there are a lot of things that harm the environment, and I do not take away from that, but pointing the finger in that direction does little to add to your argument in this case.

Norton - it ain't smack. yes, nicotine fits the scientific definition of a drug, but that does not mean my mind resembles some 1950's drug education film.

Another lame attempt to disqualify the argument by invoking stigma (the very same stigma, trashy, that you invoked when complaining about the discrimination against smokers). Newsflash: addiction does not necessarily mean you are in the gutter with a spike in your arm. Addiction means you can't stop doing something that harms your life, when you know it is harming your life (you are aware that smoking will, odds are, kill you? As long as you know...) Dictionary.com says: Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance. (Psst...compulsion means you can't stop...well, can't more likely means won't here...)

I have a hard time taking seriously anyone who was stupid enough to start smoking and too weak to quit.

well said.

trash tried to pit this argument as smokers' rights against non-smokers' rights. That is not the case. When a person's actions violates another's property, it is pretty clear as to whose rights are being trampled on. You keep saying that people should buy air filters, or even move, if they don't like it. That has got to rival some of the weakest arguments you have made here: if my rights are being trampled on, I should be the one to pay for it?

And what is wrong with discouraging people from smoking?

For the love of god, kill yourselves all you want. This law only asks that you don't fuck with others in their home. And those who want to keep their neighbors from polluting their air are deemed "anti-smokers"? How about "anti-you-polluting-my-home"? If I didn't want your doggie crap on my yard (thanks, kindall), would I be anti-doggie?
posted by adampsyche at 7:29 PM on November 23, 2001


rush, we're not talking about serial killers. or rapists, or child molesters. we're talking about cigarette smoking, and if you can't see the difference, i'm afraid that your loss of perspective trumps anything that goes on in the mind of a smoker.

Of course there is a difference, but it is a question of degree, and it is far less than you imagine it to be. You're not in a position to honestly judge that right now--okay. But your hubris in refusing to hear what others around you are saying debilitates any sense of objectivity which might make your arguments persuasive.
posted by rushmc at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2001


As long as lawn ornaments, cutesy mailboxes, big hair, loud kids, and the stench of burning animal flesh come under the same ban, I don't mind a law against a little cigarette smoke wafting into the neighbor's yard.
posted by pracowity at 10:39 PM on November 25, 2001


If this thread's not dead yet, this hot-off-the-wire story ought to kill it. Sorry for no link but the AP site I use is all dynamic URLs.

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - The Montgomery County executive said Tuesday he will not sign a bill that would fine smokers up to $750 if neighbors complained about the tobacco odor from their homes.

The county council passed the bill, one of the most restrictive anti-smoking measures in the nation, on Nov. 20.

County Executive Douglas Duncan had promised to sign it, but said he changed his mind after reading the amended legislation.

"It went too far," he said.


There's more, but that should suffice until I can find a static link.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:14 PM on November 27, 2001


Here it is:

Global Ridicule Extinguishes Montgomery's Anti-Smoking Bill.

"Upon further consideration, however, it has become clear that the tobacco smoke provisions will be nothing more than a tool to be used in squabbles between neighbors, and that significant resources will be required to address these complaints."

Yeah. Yeah! And all you Republicans who were for this law may relinquish your Anti-Big-Govt cards at your earliest convenience.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:06 AM on November 28, 2001


> Republicans who were for this law may relinquish your
> Anti-Big-Govt cards at your earliest convenience.

I like it.
posted by pracowity at 10:43 PM on November 28, 2001


"Upon further consideration, however, it has become clear that the tobacco smoke provisions will be nothing more than a tool to be used in squabbles between neighbors, and that significant resources will be required to address these complaints."

I love being proven correct.

Of course, they'll just probe for yet another back door for their agenda. Probably some numb-nuts ordinance about not being allowed to carry unlit tobacco products in public for fear that you'll drop them and some kidling will pick them up. I can hear the defense now:

"Nothing in this law is about 'persecuting' people who smoke. It is all about protecting minors who might might accidentally find your discarded pack of 'Camels'."
posted by RavinDave at 2:05 AM on November 29, 2001


They'll go for the incendiary device. Users of lighters will have to attend Portable Open Flame Device school, take a difficult test that includes numerous fire-fighting techniques, and pay for a lighter permit. Stores will require special permits to sell lighters. Lighters will have to be carried in specially constructed child-proof lighter boxes that hang on the belt in plain site. Use of a lighter within 100 yards of a gas line, wooden structure, or forest will be prohibited. Use of a lighter while drinking will be prohibited. Use of a lighter within ten feet of anyone not wearing protective clothing will be prohibited.

And candlelight dinners will be prohibited.
posted by pracowity at 3:38 AM on November 29, 2001


[plain site > plain sight] (there's my niece with that brick again*)
posted by pracowity at 4:35 AM on November 29, 2001


I'm guessing they'll maybe mandate special yellow helmets with a flashing light, so that hypersensitive smokers who can somehow detect smoke through two yards, bricks, mortor and insulation, will be warned from 8 blocks away if there's a smoker in the vicinity.

If it means avoiding them, I'll volunteer to wear one (and suspect they'll be very popular).

"Nothing in this law is about 'persecuting' people who smoke. It is all about protecting the delicate constitution of hypochondriacs who can detect a cigarette from 8 blocks away -- 12 if the wind's right."
posted by RavinDave at 5:47 AM on November 29, 2001


« Older FBI software cracks encryption wall...   |   Clinton speaks, pundits spin: ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments