A Smoke-Filled Room for the 21st Century


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (I love typing that) wants to convert the state Capitol's indoor courtyard into a "smoking plaza" by removing part of the building's roof. The Washington Times reports that the Cigar Aficionado cover boy "wants to create an informal meeting and schmoozing area where he can smoke cigars with lawmakers and other power brokers."

The outraged response from the anti-smoking crowd is further evidence that the main point of smoking bans is not to protect bystanders from secondhand smoke but to discourage the habit by making it less convenient and less socially acceptable. "That's very frightening that he would even think about smoking inside the heart of our state Capitol," said one activist, clearly more concerned about the symbolism than the smoke. "He could do more good by championing our cause rather than trivializing it."

The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association likewise scolded Schwarzenegger for setting a bad example: "We are deeply disappointed at several recent public depictions of your use and promotion of cigars and urge you to refrain from modeling this dangerous habit."

A member of L.A.'s City Council offered a similar rationale for banning smoking in city parks.

[Thanks to Christine Hall-Reis for the link.]