Environmentalism

Smoked Out in Portland

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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.

NEXT: Barrwatch: Bob on the Road

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  1. Soon they will be coming for your uncool niece.

  2. Is it guided by respectable science or by political correctness? Not being an expert in design, I have no way of knowing.

    I’m gonna go with it being PC bullshit, Jacob. I mean, really, is it that hard to figure out?

  3. So what if a LEED designation bans smoking? The LEED designation is entirely voluntary and non-governmental. The developers pursuing it are responding to market demand. Yes, Portland is “crunchy,” but a LEED designation is not a requirement for a building permit. Heck, the market probably demands no smoking buildings, LEED or no LEED. If he wants to smoke on his deck, I also know the market offers plenty of opportunities for that as well, perhaps just not in the irritating, tool-dwelling, soviet-esque Pearl District, where he was looking.

  4. Tolerant Oregon!

  5. environmental leftist kooks

  6. Too bad, since voluntary, independent standard setters have a lot of appeal for the liberty-loving set, by and large.

    Uh, sure. Like the warm embrace you give to localvores and organic food buyers.

  7. I’m relieved to note that I can still piss my pants on my balcony, if I so choose.

  8. Portlander

    The developers pursuing it are responding to market demand.

    Are there really that many people demanding to rent only in buildings where smoking is forbidden on the entire property?

    I thought Seattle was too filled with these fuckwits. Portland seems worse.

  9. I say this is a violation of free speech, because smoking a cigar conveys the attitude of what I want to say and portray. So by not allowing me to smoke a cigar, I’m not being allowed to speak my thoughts and feelings.

  10. “I thought Seattle was too filled with these fuckwits. Portland seems worse.”

    Denver too. All over the damn place. It’s not about the smoke bothering them, but they want to make a statement.

  11. Then again, I spoke too soon:

    http://www.komonews.com/news/30863929.html

    “These places have exhibited little or no sincerity with coming into compliance,” said Scott Neal, tobacco-prevention program manager for Public Health”

    Or, “Ze places have exhibited little oder no sincerity vis zer coming into compliance!” shrieked Scott Neal, stamping his boot upon an errant cigarette butt.

    “But vee haf vays! Zay vill comply!” He added a moment later.

  12. I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find smoking going on on this balcony.

    I wonder if a lot of the landlords are pulling a Claude Rains.

  13. So i guess they are just using vaporizers for their drug of choice?

  14. > 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.

    Or perhaps by the fact that many smokers are inconsiderate pigs who throw their butts everywhere and anywhere, as if the world is their personal ashtray.

    Butts are all over the city sidewalks — everywhere. It’s disgusting.

    They have only themselves to blame for such bans.

  15. The disparate impact suit over this thinly veiled “If you’re black, get back” policy will be awesome.

  16. David | October 14, 2008, 8:09pm | #
    Butts are all over the city sidewalks — everywhere. It’s disgusting.

    They have only themselves to blame for such bans.

    Or you know, currently existing litter laws could be enforced but that would be too hard, wouldn’t it?

    This is the same form of strawman that is levied against pot smokers: “but if they smoke weed they will drive stoned”. Ignoring the fact that laws prohibiting DUI already exist to pile new ones on actions some people don’t like. And it’s just as vile a tactic.

  17. David,

    They have only themselves to blame for such bans.

    If that were even a little bit true, I imagine there would have been some mention of “cigarette butts littering the sidewalk” or words to that effect somewhere in the 2005 bill banning smoking in Seattle.

    But there isn’t.

  18. > Or you know, currently existing litter laws
    > could be enforced but that would be too hard, > wouldn’t it?

    That’s *exactly* the problem — smokers need laws to curtail their filthy littering, instead of being courteous and disposing of their butts properly.

    In any case, the police cannot be everywhere at once. That places even more of the onus on the individual citizen.

    If you expect to be treated with respect, then treat others with respect. From the butt-tossing smokers I see around town, few have an interest in that. It’s arrogant and inconsiderate, and you get what you sow.

  19. They have only themselves to blame for such bans.

    Do you say that with an upturned nose or through gritted teeth like Thurston Howell III?

  20. >> They have only themselves to blame for such >> bans.

    > If that were even a little bit true, I imagine > there would have been some mention of
    > “cigarette butts littering the sidewalk” or
    > words to that effect somewhere in the 2005
    > bill banning smoking in Seattle.

    Hardly. It’s already implicit in the negative attitudes that now exist towards smokers — too many of you are inconsiderate and, well, pigs.

    It’s no wonder we can’t stand you and want you gone.

  21. If you expect to be treated with respect, then treat others with respect.

    Yes. All that respect being paid to bar owners and landlords. Why, the respect is so thick, you could walk across the sound on it!

  22. In GA cigarette butts aren’t legally litter!
    I always tell my crunchy friends that the filters provide an important source of nesting material for birds.It is true in urban areas.

  23. Hardly. It’s already implicit in the negative attitudes that now exist towards smokers — too many of you are inconsiderate and, well, pigs.

    Perhaps you should stick to speaking for yourself, lest you make other look as bigoted, something they probably wouldn’t appreciate.

    Also, I’m not a smoker.

  24. It’s no wonder we can’t stand you and want you gone.

    Your respect comes across as sincere as a cigarette ad. “Respect! It’s invigorating!”

    I have a few more for you:

    “Mmmmmm….feel the tolerance!”
    “This is nanny country”
    “I’d rather snitch than fight!”
    “You’ve come a long way, baby, to stand at least 100 feet from any dwelling, school or public facility.”

  25. JW wrote:
    >> It’s no wonder we can’t stand you and want
    >> you gone.

    > Your respect comes across as sincere as a
    > cigarette ad. “Respect! It’s invigorating!”

    But I *don’t* respect smokers. Why should I pretend otherwise. In my experience they are inconsiderate — with with their SHS or their butts — and deserve no more respect than some continuous farter or habitual litterbug.

    Don’t pretend like we hate you for no reason. You have shown us over and over again that too many of you are inconsiderate.

    You have made your own bed as far as I am concerned.

  26. > “This is nanny country”

    It’s no more nanny country than asking people to obey basic rules that derive from courteousness — though many of you like to think otherwise, as if you’re some great oppressed class under the boot of government. Please. It’s your _actions_ we object to. And, behind them, the implicit inconsideration, no less than if you threw your leftover lunch into the street. Why on earth would you think this is acceptable? Don’t you care what your neighborhood looks like?

  27. Not only do I throw cigarette butts out(on public property)I also toss chicken bones and peanut shells. I also rag on people for actually littering.

  28. Don’t pretend like we hate you for no reason. You have shown us over and over again that too many of you are inconsiderate.

    Sorry, non-smoker here. Think harder.

    Now, go sneer at the help.

  29. But I *don’t* respect smokers.

    Ya think? You sure had me fooled. You might want to add property owners to your list there, chief.

  30. > Ya think? You sure had me fooled. You might
    > want to add property owners to your list
    > there, chief.

    Please. Stop confounding the issue. This is about consideration, not property. The smoker in question here does not own his apartment — his landlord does. He’s free to take his business elsewhere.

    In any case, I’ve been talking about the city streets, who are no one’s property. A great many of us mind walking through the filth that smokers throw down.

    Why do you have such a difficult time understanding that? Look on any city street or in any mall parking lot. It’s an obvious problem. Tell me why it should not disgust us.

  31. The health concerns about SHS are fake. There are already laws against littering. The idea is that smokers are abusing public space not by making it unhealthy or more dirty but by doing such a damn DESPICABLE thing where everyone can see them. If you want to make people more courteous, use informal means like shaming rather than the authority of the state.

    OT, i HATE when people wear their pants down below their asses like pigs. They have only themselves to thank for the new regime of legislation I’m proposing to whip them into shape. Who do they think they are, really?

  32. Hogan said:
    > The health concerns about SHS are fake.

    Hardly. They have been well-established by the same scientific bodies you rely on to guarantee the safety of your food, medicine, and other products.

    > There are already laws against littering.

    And, without a policeman every 20 feet, they are difficult to enforce. And smokers know this. And so they feel free to toss their butts wherever they please. That’s the very definition of inconsiderate. It’s why I don’t spit on the sidewalk.

    Until smokers evolve to the point where they take others into consideration and not merely because they might be arrested, they will continue to be looked down upon as the pigs that they are.

    > The idea is that smokers are abusing public > space not by making it unhealthy or more
    > dirty but by doing such a damn DESPICABLE
    > thing where everyone can see them.

    No, although it’s clearly convenient for you to think so — it justifies your being thought of as some poor persecuted person.

    It is actually the filth — the butts that wash into the water supply, the way they disgustingly disintegrate and spread out when wet, their putrid odor. It’s the same reason we gave up shitting in the gutter. Is there anything more disgusting in the universe than a pile of butts tossed down by some creep emptying their ashtray in a parking lot?

    This is why you are being regulated. You have shown yourselves unable to police yourselves. Hence the hand of government is needed, to protect the rest of us from your filthy ways.

    If you want to make people more courteous, use informal means like shaming rather than the authority of the state.

    OT, i HATE when people wear their pants down below their asses like pigs. They have only themselves to thank for the new regime of legislation I’m proposing to whip them into shape. Who do they think they are, really?

  33. So i guess they are just using vaporizers for their drug of choice?

    You did note that it’s all about tobacco prevention, no?

    If pot was included under these no smoking ordinances, they’d disappear faster than a fart in a hurricane.

  34. Hence the hand of government is needed, to protect the rest of us from your filthy ways.

    OK, you had us going for a while, but the jig is up.

  35. Uhm, it’s an air quality standard, and if you read the actual specs, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t ban indoor smoking in residential buildings anyway.

  36. Please. Stop confounding the issue. This is about consideration, not property. The smoker in question here does not own his apartment — his landlord does. He’s free to take his business elsewhere.

    I’m not confounding the issue. You obviously haven’t devoted too much thought to it. The landlord and bar owner aren’t free to go elsewhere, unless they want to sell their business and go to the next city that will make business decisions for them. They’re stuck there.

    The non-smoker is free to go to smoke free facilities, as is the smoker is free to avoid the same. See how easy that is?

    Why do you have such a difficult time understanding that?

    I understand that. I think I grok the concept of litter just fine, but thanks for asking. I simply don’t agree that it is a valid reason for the wholesale usurpation of one’s property rights, because you were touched in a bad place by a smoking litterbug when you were 7.

    Hence the hand of government is needed, to protect the rest of us from your filthy ways.

    I think our time is up; see you next week. Half-hour earlier?

  37. OT, i HATE when people wear their pants down below their asses like pigs. They have only themselves to thank for the new regime of legislation I’m proposing to whip them into shape. Who do they think they are, really?

    OK, the joke’s over, Alice.

  38. “The smoker in question here does not own his apartment”

    By paying rent the owner has the same rights to privacy as an owner of a property. In this case the rental agreement he would need to sign takes away certain rights. The same as the condo association agreement or CCR’s would do to an owner.

  39. While I appreciate a good debate over smoking rights, the real heart of the matter here is why LEEDS considers a no smoking ban to be a green issue.

    And to that, I answer, that objectively, cigarette smoke leaves visible stains and makes the air smell a distinct smell to a non-smoker. So in that sense, while debatable whether the smell/smoke is actually carcinogenic or not, the presence of any type of smoke is in and of itself, arguably “un-green.”

    Additionally, from the linked LEEDS site:
    less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins

    While some debate that secondhand cigarette smoke isn’t as toxic as many claim, the fact is that many people are allergic to cigarette smoke, regardless of whether it causes cancer or not. Asthmatics frequently have asthma attacks/difficulty breathing in the presence of even a trace amount of cigarette smoke. In that sense, all of the above things listed in the quote are common allergens, and one could argue that avoiding allergenic substances can be “green living” (however bs that phrase may be).

    Thus, I don’t have a problem with LEEDS making that mandatory for their purposes, so long as no property owner of a private/rental residence is forced to be LEEDS certified. If that organization believes in reducing those things, I say let them, so long as it’s voluntary to comply with their rules.

  40. While some debate that secondhand cigarette smoke isn’t as toxic as many claim, the fact is that many people are allergic to cigarette smoke, regardless of whether it causes cancer or not.

    People are alergic to perfume and peanut dust too. Are they on the list?

  41. “Additionally, from the linked LEEDS site:
    less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins”

    Mold, mildew, outgassing of organics from upholstery, carpeting, paint (new car smell is poison!) are important design issues for buildings, especially since the easiest solution i.e. increasing the outdoor air intake also raises your energy usage. The question is: what does a mandate to reduce indoor toxins have to do with prohibiting smoking outdoors?

  42. Relax, everyone.
    The important thing is that you’re still allowed to burn a flag on your balcony.

  43. cigarette smoke leaves visible stains and makes the air smell a distinct smell to a non-smoker

    Neither of which have anything to do with being “green”. And when did “green” become all about nannying people to be “healthy” anyway? I can think of lots of other activities that should be banned by that measure.

  44. OT, i HATE when people wear their pants down below their asses like pigs.

    Ha! Shows what you know! Pigs don’t even wear pants!

  45. What is ‘certified wood’?

  46. David, as a constant farter, I am offended by your comments and I demand an apology.

  47. What is ‘certified wood’?

    Yup. That’s wood alright. Stamp it!

  48. Move to Taiwan. We smoke in the elevators.

  49. I am sure if they made cigarettes in the form of the American flag, then you would be free to smoke it on your balcony.

  50. And in that horrible dictator ship across the Taiwan Straits smoking was just banned in department stores, but everyone ignores the law.Seems like they have some concept of freedom and rights there. And they hate religious nutcases, another plus.

  51. joe,

    Like the warm embrace you give to localvores and organic food buyers.

    Mocking something isnt contradictory to support.

  52. smoking is a repulsive habit and smokers are getting all bent out of shape because they have to take some of the abuse they dealt out with impunity for years. i remeber smoke blown in my face by assholes when I asked them to put out the damn things in enclosed spaces. whatever “oppression” these asswipes suffer they deserve.

  53. They have been well-established by the same scientific bodies you rely on to guarantee the safety of your food, medicine, and other products.

    Does David even know where he is posting?

  54. Make everyone go outside to smoke, don’t put an ashtray there, and then complain about cigarette butts.Good plan.

  55. All we want is mandated no-smoking sections in restaurants. Surly that is not unreasonable.

    Fatties, you’re next.

  56. Concerned observer,

    Write a manifesto or blow your brains out–the world isn’t going to change just for you.

  57. That’s *exactly* the problem — smokers need laws to curtail their filthy littering, instead of being courteous and disposing of their butts properly.

    I live in Detroit. Without those damn littering smokers, it would be paradise.

  58. It’s no more nanny country than asking people to obey basic rules that derive from courteousness

    What’s considerate about forbidding a person from enjoying a stogie on his own balcony?

    i remeber smoke blown in my face by assholes when I asked them to put out the damn things in enclosed spaces.

    If you copped the same attitude to those “assholes” as you’re copping to us, I understand why you got smoke blown in your face. (Not that I approve, but I understand.)

  59. i remeber smoke blown in my face by assholes when I asked them to put out the damn things in enclosed spaces.

    I’m guessing there was another, and much better, reason that they did that. Just a hunch.

  60. Neither of which have anything to do with being “green”. And when did “green” become all about nannying people to be “healthy” anyway? I can think of lots of other activities that should be banned by that measure.

    Green is the new red.

  61. I saw 2 beer bottles and a coke can on the ground yesterday.

    I believe we should ban both of these products, as we clearly don’t have sufficient police to enforce littering laws.

    Filthy drinkers….

  62. Not to mention that pile of tires I found in the woods yesterday. Damn car drivers!

  63. Denver too. All over the damn place. It’s not about the smoke bothering them, but they want to make a statement.

    And that statement is “Fuck Liberty”

    Same reason all these fuckwits support Obama.

  64. Being a libertarian in Portland would be a frustrating existence. I grew up there, and whenever I go back to visit my parents, I’m amazed at how the nitwit statism and “green” silliness seems to increase each time.

    The city is falling apart and the unemployment rate is appalling, but those problems don’t seem to rate with the local govts.

  65. Portland, aka “Seattle Jr.”.

  66. Unfortunately Katherine Mangu-Ward did not do the research on this.

    LEED Certification does not require a total prohihibition on smoking outside a commercial or residential building. Outdoor designated smoking areas are required to be 25 feet from an entrance, open window or outside air intake. Also LEED only requires residential buildings prohibit smoking in common indoor area and that individual dwelling units be sealed from each other to prevent transmission of smoke between units. Got that from the “LEED for New Construction & Major Renovation Version 2.2, 3rd Edition October 2007”

  67. David | October 14, 2008, 10:06pm | #

    Is there anything more disgusting in the universe than a pile of butts tossed down by some creep emptying their ashtray in a parking lot?

    Hyperbole much? I have a sneeking suspicion that if I were to sit in your lap nude, take a HUGE dump, wiggle around for a minute or two, then vomit directly in your mouth, you might just be able to put a few cigarette butts in perspective.

    Or perhaps not. In your case, something might come up. 🙂

  68. Classic example of people like you:

    I was at a local baseball game this summer, small field with some basic wooden bleachers. At one point, I felt the need for some sweet, sweet nicotine. I left the bleachers, walked around behind them and lit up.

    A woman turned around to talk to another spectator, and saw me through the seats. She began to frown, glare, make little coughing noises, etc. then asked me “would I mind taking that somewhere else”.

    Now, it is essential to the story that I point out a few things. The wind direction had me down-wind of everyone in the stands. The woman was not even aware of my evil behavior until she saw me. In fact, I had been sucking Satan’s cock for 7-8 minutes and was almost down to the filter when the confrontation took place.

    I politely agreed to move away, finished my smoke, field stripped the butt (as I always do when in a public place), and threw it in a trash receptacle.

    Now, I ask, which of us was the inconsiderate asshole? Hmmmm??

  69. Question for those of you who have been to Portland. I went there once and I really liked it very much. I’m from NY/NJ, and I liked the small-city feel, the clean, open streets, the proximity to lots of natural space, and the general vibe of the place. (OR in general is a beautiful state.) The hippie-ness didn’t really get on my nerves, although I wasn’t there long.

    So the question – are there places you guys can recommend living which have some of those positive aspects I mentioned, without the more onerous govt restrictions and regulations in place, especially with regard to personal space or personal behavior, in Portland or in Oregon in general?

  70. NH? Maybe some southern towns? I haven’t travelled enough..

  71. sv, you just described 2/3 of the communities that are non-coastal and W of the big muddy.

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