“…Because It Looks Too Much Like Smoking.” The invention and rapid spread in popularity of e-cigarettes might be seen as a sort of lab experiment to test the proposition: when you banned smoking, were you mostly concerned about the spillover effects on third parties or mostly being paternalistic toward tobacco users? [Jacob Sullum, Reason]
Considering that whole edifices of regulation are built on the premise of the lethal nature of “passive” smoking, you’d think the press might pay at least passing attention to reports like this one: a big study of more than 76,000 women found no link between lung cancer and secondhand smoke, which tends to confirm earlier studies also consistent with zero or undetectable association. [Journal of the National Cancer Institute; Christopher Snowdon] More: Jacob Sullum (“Now they tell us.”)
The ban applies to privately owned homes that share a party wall with another home. [ABC News] The rationale, per city official Rebecca Woodbury:
“It doesn’t matter if it’s owner-occupied or renter-occupied. We didn’t want to discriminate. The distinguishing feature is the shared wall.” As justification for the rule, she cited studies showing that secondhand smoke seeped through ventilating ducts and walls, even through cracks [emphasis added -- W.O.]. “It depends on a building’s construction,” she said, “but it does affect the unit next door, with the negative health impacts due to smoke.”
San Rafael is in affluent Marin County just north of San Francisco. Woodbury said there had been hardly any opposition to the ordinance: “We have a very low percentage of smokers in the county,” she said. On proposals in Berkeley, Calif. to ban some smoking in private homes, see this recent post.
P.S. With end-of-year donation time coming on, I won’t be writing any checks to groups like the American Lung Association that support this sort of thing. Plenty of deserving health and research charities do great work while being respectful of individual liberty and property rights.
Berkeley, Calif. councilman Jesse Arreguin proposes banning smoking in private single family homes when children, seniors or lodgers are present [San Francisco Chronicle]
More: I’m quoted by Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders:
In deference to the secondhand smoke rationale, Arreguin suggests that the ban apply if a minor lives in the home, “a nonsmoking elder, 62 years of age or older is present” or any other “non-smoking lodger is present.”
Walter Olson of the libertarian Cato Institute compares the Berkeley nanny ordinance to secondhand smoke itself: “They are seeping under our doors now to get into places where they’re not wanted.”
He faults “ever more ambitious smoking bans” that rework the definition of private space. “Now they’re really just saying it doesn’t matter if you have the consent of everyone in the room.” Olson savored Arreguin’s suggestion that 63-year-olds cannot consent to being near a smoker.
Following the rules wherever they lead? The newly installed alarms did promptly catch a guest smoking in a cleaning closet. [Independent]
“The vices of the rich and great are mistaken for error; and those of the poor and lowly, for crimes.” (attributed to the Countess of Blessington) The main scientific reason (if it can be called that) cited by the Food and Drug Administration seems to be that adding menthol makes smoking more enjoyable to many users, leading to readier “initiation of the smoking habit.” [Atlantic Wire] In addition, the World Trade Organization ruled last year that it was an arbitrary trade restriction for the United States to have banned clove-flavored cigarettes of the sort formerly imported from Indonesia, as Congress did in the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, without also banning menthol-flavored cigarettes. [Jakarta Post]
More: Get ready for a huge boost to the already-thriving cigarette-smuggling business should the plan go through [ACSH] And from Arthur Caplan at Time: “Antismoking Advocates Have Misused Science.”
In the New York legislature, bowling alleys are hoping to win a law protecting them from slip-fall liability arising after their customers wear store-rented shoes outside the building and either slip there or track snow or other slippery matter back inside. Weather hazards have been tripping up more customers of the ordinarily indoor sport, it seems, since the state enforced a complete indoor smoking ban. The trial lawyer association is dead set against the bill; its president claims that the bill “undercuts the constitutional right to a trial by a jury” — presumably on the theory that it somehow undercuts trial by jury for a legislature to roll back any instance of liability for anyone anywhere. That’s sheer nonsense, of course — otherwise, it’d have been unconstitutional for legislatures around most of the country to have abolished the old heartbalm torts of breach of promise to marry and alienation of affection. [Albany Times-Union via Future of Capitalism] More: Lowering the Bar.
“California Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, has introduced a bill to make it illegal for people to smoke in their own homes — if they live in an apartment or a condo or a multifamily home.” [Debra Saunders, syndicated/RealClearPolitics]
A family in Rocklin, Calif. is bothered by neighbors who light up on their patio and wants the town to pass a law. [Placer Herald]
David Boaz recalls the great essayist’s remarks at a Cato Institute event. Other tributes: David Frum, D.G. Myers, Chris Buckley.
More: Hitchens’ wonderful 2004 Vanity Fair piece in which he sets out to break a series of pettifogging New York City laws and regulations.
The Bay Area town of Larkspur plans to forbid most apartment and condominium tenants from smoking in their own units. [Marin Independent Journal; related]
Authorities in Essex say they will check ashtrays and impose fines over smoking in company cars and commercial vehicles, which has been banned in England since 2007. [Telegraph via Stuttaford, NRO] We may need to develop a new terminology here: was Nanny herself ever so bossy and intrusive?
When you go too far even for the editorialists at the Times, you know you’ve really gone overboard.
After much uncritical reportage of claims that heart attacks in this or that community fell immediately and precipitously after a smoking ban went into effect, a larger and more careful study finds no evidence for any such miraculous effect [Jacob Sullum, Reason] Earlier here, etc.
We know it can’t, because Mayor Bloomberg has assured us that smoking bans don’t cut into restaurants’ business. [Saginaw News via Fountain; Vassar, Mich.]