Smoked Out in Portland


If it's good enough for Castro, it should be good enough for Portland

Occasional reason contributor and occasional smoker Jacob Grier recently moved to Portland, OR, where he's having trouble finding an apartment.

A cheerful libertarian, Grier doesn't object to a building's owner banning smoking on the premises:

"I respect their rights of property and freedom of association, even if they won't extend the same courtesy to smokers and business owners."

But it turns out things are a little more complicated than that.

To be a green-certified property (pretty important in crunchy Portland) there must be an absolute prohibition on smoking, including outdoor spaces. Banning outdoor smoking ranks higher in the green building certification standards than building with certified wood, reusing materials, using renewable energy, or reducing water use.

Unless a guy smoking a cigar on his balcony is having a vastly more significant environmental impact than I previously thought, the standard seems to be driven less by a real balancing of environmental priorities and more by aesthetics or political correctness. Too bad, since voluntary, independent standard setters have a lot of appeal for the liberty-loving set, by and large.

Read all of Grier's thoughtful post here.