Tobacco

Put the Belmont Ban in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

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BELMONT, Calif.—During her 50 years of smoking, Edith Frederickson says, she has lit up in restaurants and bars, airplanes and trains, and indoors and out, all as part of a two-pack-a-day habit that she regrets not a bit. But as of two weeks ago, Ms. Frederickson can no longer smoke in the one place she loves the most: her home.

Ms. Frederickson lives in an apartment in Belmont, Calif., a quiet Silicon Valley city that is now home to perhaps the nation's strictest antismoking law, effectively outlawing lighting up in all apartment buildings.

"I'm absolutely outraged," said Ms. Frederickson, 72, pulling on a Winston as she sat on a concrete slab outside her single-room apartment. "They're telling you how to live and what to do, and they're doing it right here in America."

That from a New York Times account of the first weeks of most draconian (draconianest?) smoking ban in the country. The Times sympathetically portrays not just Edith F. above but also the guy who got the smoking ban ball rolling (yes, a mixed metaphor!), 84-year-old Ray Goodrich, who says that second-hand smoke "gave me an instant headache, kind of like an iron band around the head…I could be sitting and have the air filters going, which eliminated the visible smoke, but the smoke was still there." I hate smoking more than the next person and have chosen in the past not to rent in buildings redolent of memories of ash past, but that sort of hyper-sensitivity strikes me as more about the smeller and less about the smoker. In any case, Goodrich started a letter-writing campaign that culminated in the law being passed in 2007 and implemented on January 9 of this year.

"We need your help," read one of Mr. Goodrich's letters in July 2006. "A barking dog disturbs our sleep but will not kill us. Secondhand smoke is killing us."

Whole Times account here.

As a matter of science, Goodrich is wrong; smoking is about the worst thing you can do for yourself, but secondhand smoke, especially the sort talked about above, is not killing people. And as a matter of precedent, the Belmont smoking ban is a nanny state measure on steroids (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with steroids, but you know what I mean). Second smoke is not the equivalent of shooting a gun through a wall (as a council member argued during discussions about the ban). More important, even if secondhand smoke were clearly linked to death as Goodrich supposes, that doesn't mean that all places everywhere need to ban it. Landlords and condo complexes in the town had already figured out a way to accomodate smokers and non-smokers by letting buildings go one way or another. Isn't it a superior solution to leave individuals with more choices rather than fewer? Why force a single model everywhere by law?

Reason has been reporting on the Belmont ban for a long time. Click below to watch "Just Can't Quit: How far will smoking bans go?," which we released last October and details the Belmont case (and features the most hilarious "for the children!" moment outside of The Simpsons). And go here for embed code, downloadable versions, and links to Reason's coverage of the nanny state and smoking.

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  1. Won’t somebody please think of the children!

  2. Why are they persecuting the people who pay for our children’s health care?

  3. I think that council member is on to something. Let’s see, there’s second hand bullets, second hand kitchen fires, second hand vermin infestations, second hand explosive making, and of course second hand drug raids. Wow, that apartment living can be downright lethal!!

  4. “We need your help,” read one of Mr. Goodrich’s letters in July 2006. “A barking dog disturbs our sleep but will not kill us. Secondhand smoke is killing us.”

    It’s obvious that Mr. Goodrich is not a retired police officer.

  5. draconianest?

    You pain me, Nick. Like an iron band around my head.

  6. He’s 84! If second-hand smoke is killing him why didn’t he have a serious second-hand smoke illness in his teens? This ban will give the old fart another two weeks of life, tops. Statistically insignificant.

  7. Take away their social security!

  8. Elemenope-

    No need to worry. Orally, Draconianest will not be catching on any time soon. It flunks the mellifluous test.

    BTW, you do know that you are scold when it comes to language?

  9. As a matter of science, Goodrich is wrong; smoking is about the worst thing you can do for yourself, but secondhand smoke, especially the sort talked about above, is not killing people.

    As a matter of science?

    The science says that there is a small, but reliable relative risk of mortality resulting from living with a smoker.

    Now, I am sure that living with and living in an apartment near are much different, but as a matter of science I am gonna go with “it hasn’t been studied” rather than “I know the answer.”

  10. BTW, you do know that you are scold when it comes to language?

    A wicked scold. While it’s not my best feature, it helps in my subject of study, and in any case it is useless to attempt to restrain. My brain just sees a clumsy neologism or a syntax error and cries out for relief.

    BTW, Nick? America. That’s who you’re hurting. America.

  11. LMNOP,

    That would be an “error of syntax” or a “syntactic error.”

    =/;^)

  12. Neu Mejican ,

    What exactly does the phrase “small but reliable” mean to you? To me it means “statistically insignificant”.

    There is a small, but reliable relative risk of mortality resulting from giant tomatoes breaking loose from their vines and running you over while stuck in rush-hour traffic. Does this strike fear in your heart? Or does it strike you as statistically insignificant? Or just stupid? PLEASE say stupid.

    I’m going to say it plain; Idiots like you, and idiotic reasoning like your’s, are the reason our once great country has decided to become a “not too bad” country.

    Why don’t you go find a pile of sand and pound it up your rectum?

  13. the guy who got the smoking ban ball rolling (yes, a mixed metaphor!)

    And so we see the smoking ban roll on.

  14. A woman’s right to choose (you know,abortion) is constitutionally protected by the ninth and fourteenth amendment’s right to privacy clauses, yet a smoker has no protection? No right to privacy?

    Somebody- anybody, help me see the reasoning here. I’m a long way from a constitutional scholar, so anyone who is, please help. I mean what the HELL is going on here!

    Please spare me the second hand death BS. I’m asking for help with the Constitution of The United States, not help with Statistics 101. I aced that.

  15. “What exactly does the phrase ‘small but reliable’ mean to you? To me it means ‘statistically insignificant.'”

    Then you don’t know what statistically insignificant means.

    “I’m going to say it plain; Idiots like you, and idiotic reasoning like your’s, are the reason our once great country has decided to become a “not too bad” country.”

    Bad with stats. Bad with grammar.

    “Why don’t you go find a pile of sand and pound it up your rectum?”

    Pathetic all around.

  16. That would be an “error of syntax” or a “syntactic error.”

    I grew up with a Commodore 64. You compile programs in BASIC, and you tell me what the proper form of “syntax” is. 🙂

  17. Captain Cranky,
    I realize you’re cranky, but mind your own business. Let the mejican speak for himself.

    Chris

  18. If you’re his mother, my apologies.

  19. Does not the government have the right to prohibit harmful activities like smoking or anal sex between men to protect public health? If not, why not?

  20. “”””The science says that there is a small, but reliable relative risk of mortality resulting from living with a smoker. “”””

    Source?

    Last I remember this 2nd hand smoke fear started with the Surgeon General misrepresenting a report.

  21. “”””Why don’t you go find a pile of sand and pound it up your rectum?””””

    Will the sand contain cigarette butts?

  22. Now, I am sure that living with and living in an apartment near are much different, but as a matter of science I am gonna go with “it hasn’t been studied” rather than “I know the answer.”

    Sometimes it is necessary to look past statistics, Neu, and look at method.

    The only possible mechanism by which second hand smoke can be harmful is the introduction of trace amounts of smoke into the lungs of the non-smoker. When we’re talking about an apartment down the hall and on a different floor, the amounts of smoke we’re talking about are so miniscule as to be comparable to the risks from car exhaust from the parking lot outside, car breaks from the stop sign at the corner, etc.

    If you have ever stood on a corner at an intersection and waited for the walk sign, you have encountered more chemicals than you can get from second hand smoke from scores or hundreds of feet away, through barriers like walls and doors.

  23. Car “brakes”.

  24. “Will the sand contain cigarette butts?”

    It’s not my ass, but yeah, why not?

  25. I can’t wait ’til the dictators come after the non-smoker’s favorite things….and they will, THEY WILL. Just wait and see. Mark my words. And I’ll be there to scream; I TOLD YOU SO!!! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…..

  26. Btw; you NEVER hear about animals who live with smokers all their life getting cancer. And they USE animals to test things on for humans!

  27. the amounts of smoke we’re talking about are so miniscule

    It’s not even “smoke” by then. That’s complicated stuff, and different components of it diffuse differently. That’s why it doesn’t smell the same outside two-packs-a-day guy’s door as it does in his beard.

    The chemicals in cigarette smoke that are complex enough to give somebody cancer are heavy; they can’t travel far on air currents. Inhaling them without smoking is practically impossible.

    But people are crazy.

  28. I realize you’re cranky, but mind your own business.

    You are aware that you are posting on a public forum, right?

    …right?

  29. The chemicals in cigarette smoke that are complex enough to give somebody cancer are heavy; they can’t travel far on air currents. Inhaling them without smoking is practically impossible.

    You are aware (I hope) that *huge* (relatively speaking) and *heavy* (again, relatively) particles are suspended in the air easily. We’re talking macroscopic particles. Like, you know, ones you can see with your naked eye.

    We here in the world call that stuff “dust”.

    Weird shit, I tell ya.

  30. BURN!!!!!!!!!!

  31. More than 50 studies show that human papillomaviruses cause over ten times more lung cancers than they pretend are caused by secondhand smoke. Passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus, so the anti-smokers’ studies, which are all based on nothing but lifestyle questionnaires, have been cynically DESIGNED to falsely blame passive smoking for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV.

    http://www.smokershistory.com/hpvlungc.htm

    The anti-smokers have committed the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on smoking and passive smoking, as well as ignoring other types of evidence that proves they are lying, such as the fact that the death rates from asthma have more than doubled since their movement began.

    http://www.smokershistory.com/newviews.htm

    And it’s a lie that passive smoking causes heart disease. AMI deaths in Pueblo actually ROSE the year after the smoking ban.

    http://www.smokershistory.com/etsheart.html

  32. Passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus, so the anti-smokers’ studies, which are all based on nothing but lifestyle questionnaires, have been cynically DESIGNED to falsely blame passive smoking for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV.

    The claim in bold is absolutely unsupported by evidence, and everything else falls apart from there.

    Although, the practical clue is the absurd assertion that a cabal of doctors is conspiring to bury the truth of HPV and lung cancer. That’s too silly to entertain seriously.

  33. Nick, don’t you know that truth is a function of Progressive utility?

    I mean, whats the point of a kind of truth that allows people to be as fat, greedy and happy as they want to be?

    Such a truth is not worthy of civilized society, so its time you got it and shut up about this “empirical” nonsense.

  34. Well, since they’re banning cigarettes because they’re stinky and give people headaches…when oh when will they get around to banning Axe?

  35. The final frontier is banning smoking in detached private residences. This will happen, the big question is what excuse they will use. Then the next step is sending SWAT teams busting into people’s houses looking for furtive smokers.

  36. Then the next step is sending SWAT teams busting into people’s houses looking for furtive smokers.

    So when they shoot the dog, will the dog then have died due to passive smoking?

  37. Actually, the Final Frontier will be straight-out tobacco prohibition (and it’s a toss-up between California, Massachusetts or Bloombergville as to who attempts it first).

    However, as long as governments get significant tax revenues from the Demon Weed, it’s not going to happen any time soon…

  38. As someone with a lung issue that makes me avoid smokers like the plague – to the point where I would pay extra to live in a totally non-smoking building – I will still say authoritarianism ain’t the way.

    You compile programs in BASIC, and you tell me what the proper form of “syntax” is. 🙂

    If you compile programs in an interpreted language, I’d have to say syntax is the least of your problems…

  39. If you compile programs in an interpreted language, I’d have to say syntax is the least of your problems…

    No shit. The verb should be understood metaphorically (that is, there is a substantial intermediate step); I order the compiler to compile the code into an executable, and it does so.

  40. I wonder if Buddhists, or any practitioners of other eastern religions/philosophies, would be barred from lighting incense for their home shrines too. And if that would run afoul of the First Amendment.

  41. Or even more directly, practitioners of Santarea (sp?) or Voodoo who use cigar smoke in their prayers/devotions.

  42. the Final Frontier will be straight-out tobacco prohibition

    Yep. Then we’ll see what kind of country we have: a nation of snitches, perhaps?

  43. And if that would run afoul of the First Amendment.

    It’s just common sense regulation.

  44. Tobacco prohibition is approximately as likely as a snowstorm in August…in Los Angeles. Sure, the current restrictions are onerous, but as someone else pointed out, there’s just too much money in it (and too many states dependent upon it) to be a reasonable target.

  45. the guy who got the smoking ban ball rolling (yes, a mixed metaphor!)

    And so we see the smoking ban roll on.

    Mixed metaphor to deodorant homonym. Nice.

  46. 84-year-old Ray Goodrich, who says that second-hand smoke “gave me an instant headache,

    “instant” = psychosomatic.

  47. “Isn’t it a superior solution to leave individuals with more choices rather than fewer?”

    Uh, no. Duh. Haven’t you read Mr. Schwartz?

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060005696/reasonmagazinea-20/

  48. Second smoke is not the equivalent of shooting a gun through a wall (as a council member argued during discussions about the ban).

    Maybe the council member (huh, huh) would volunteer to be part of an experiment in this particular area.

  49. The science says that there is a small, but reliable relative risk of mortality resulting from living with a smoker.

    NM, I wouldn’t call the risk “small”. There is 100% reliable relative risk of mortality from living. Life is an sexually transmitted terminal disease. There is only one cure.

    I wonder if Buddhists, or any practitioners of other eastern religions/philosophies, would be barred from lighting incense for their home shrines too. And if that would run afoul of the First Amendment.

    Ravac, I live with a crazy buddhist – it’s insane. First one shrine with three sticks burned every morning and night. Then a second with three sticks burned every morning and night. Then the oldest “kid” steals the living room TV for his xbox after we cancelled cable – hey look, an empty space…room for another shrine. This third one only has two candles. We could feed two or three famillies in the third world with the food she puts out for Buddha. He doesn’t even eat it! My buddy gave me a 60 inch TV for free, but I had to give it to my brother because “we don’t have enough room”.

    Oh, but if I were to light up a smoke in the house, my ass would be on the curb.

    BTW, do you know what 12 sticks of stink per day in the same room does to the walls and ceilings? It’s not nice, but painting is my job. Not that I’m complaining or anything.

    If only there was some law…

  50. bbs,

    I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not.

    To be clear, I mean no disrespect towards Buddhists or anyone’s personal beliefs. I just wanted to note that there are cultures and traditions, notably Asian, Indian, and African, where having a shrine in one’s home is as common as having a sofa is here in ‘Merika. If the justification that a few molecules of tobacco smoke in the air causes you instant migraines and is enough to restrict others liberty, then surely burning incense, whether as religious tradition or as a way to relive the black-light & velvet poster days, could be banned as well.

  51. Ravac, that was for real, not being facetious at all. Some buddhists, like mine, really do burn that much incense. Good thing we don’t live in an apartment in California.

    I’ve thought about this in the same context you brought up. Incense, candles, punks and those burning potpourri things produce all kinds of smoke.

  52. Why no mention of heart disease caused by secondhand smoke? The American Lung Association says, “Secondhand smoke causes almost 50,000 deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year, including approximately 3,400 from lung cancer and 22,700-69,600 from heart disease.” They cite a California study. Linky.

    Without talking about the constitutionality of any of this (just speaking normatively), I don’t think people should have the right to do something that harms a person of average sensibilities, even if that harm is minor. Let’s look at all of the potential harms, not just lung cancer. Don’t cherrypick the data.

  53. I’ll wager that more people have been killed by lighting strikes than smokers living in the same building as you. I’ll go so far as to say by at least a factor of ten.

    Any activity that anyone does has a small chance of causing or contributing to somebody else early demise. This is called reality. The intelligent thing for nanny staters to do would be spend their efforts on things that are more likely to kill you. For some reason unfathomable to me they would prefer to concentrate on somebody in another apartment’s cigarette or a third grader lunching on a PB&J.

    Do they realize how stupid they appear are? I guess not.

  54. The shrine. Not surprisingly, we had a small fire not too long ago and had 7 monks and lots of community over to “bless” (for lack of better description) the new one.

    Used to be the living room

    Will not get eaten

    These are hi-res pics – I just signed up for imagegshack, so I’m not sure if there is going to be a bandwidth issue.

  55. Without talking about the constitutionality of any of this (just speaking normatively), I don’t think people should have the right to do something that harms a person of average sensibilities, even if that harm is minor. Let’s look at all of the potential harms, not just lung cancer. Don’t cherrypick the data.

    Charcoal BBQs? The smoke from well done steaks and cooking bacon is carcinogenic. Rug shampoos? Hair dye? Nobody knows what the damage second hand exposure to people dying their hair is (god that shit stinks to high heaven).

    If you look hard enough at any activity in a country of 300,000,000 you will find some harm to innocent bystanders. You are going to die! Get over it you fucking pussies.

  56. Next thing the zealots will claim is that harmful tobacco molecules accumulate in carpet, curtains and similar household fittings, only to be slowly released over the next few years. If you’re a smoker, the only way to sell your house will be to get it stripped and cleaned at enormous expensive by hazmat-equipped contractors. Effectively banning smoking in all private residences.

  57. Let’s just go ahead and make tobacco illegal. That would solve the whole problem. Nobody will die prematurely of second hand smoking related diseases. It’ll be just like paradise here on earth. Come on, this is easy!

    It worked for pot right? Now that marijuana is illegal nobody smokes it…right?

    We could have a whole new Federal bureaucracy set up. We can have a war on tobacco. Hopefully it will be as successful as the “war on drugs”.

    Or, maybe we could find other things to do with our time?

    Shit, I don’t know. Let me light up a “fire safe cigarette” with my “child proof” lighter and think about this. Wait! I’m in my apartment! Fuck! If any of you fuckers snitch, I’m telling them you watch porn!

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