March 19, 2006

Banning Sidewalk Smoking
Smoking Leads to Lots of Smoke

Walking down the street can be hazardous to your health.

I do a lot of urban walking. Decent public transportation lets me keep my car at home during the week. This LA kid is proud to say his five year old car only has 15,000 miles on it. I walk about 10 miles a week just getting to and from the subway. It’s good for my health and the environment. My California friends who traverse the freeways (or drive to the grocery down the block) shrug in disbelief.

I enjoy relying on my feet to get me where I want to go. But more and more I’ve found myself having to dodge traffic. No, not crazy drivers. Smokers.

I am becoming more incensed whenever I have to quickly detour to avoid cigarette smoke wafting from the pedestrian in front of me. I haven’t quite developed my “anti-smoking on the street” persona —you know, the look that says what you’re thinking but won’t invite any physical altercation. But I’ve started wishing the ban on smoking in restaurants would be extended outside.

The Washington Post is reporting the Southern California city of Calabassas has now banned outside smoking. Wherever you can smell it smoking is now against the law. Not only is smoking banned on sidewalks, “the ordinance grants nonsmokers the right to tell smokers to snuff out their butts. If smokers refuse, the ordinance says, they will be liable for stiff fines.”

I applaud you Calabassas. Where’s the petition, I’ll sign. But I can only imagine how this civic duty would play on the sidewalks of DC.

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