Yesterday, the House of Representatives smoking ban within the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House floor entrance took effect. According to the WaPo article,
Smoking is still permitted in lawmakers’ offices, in two designated smoking rooms in the House office buildings and in a small, concrete room in the Capitol’s basement.
The article goes on to describe the scene in the concrete basement smoking room, which sounds dreadful:
Yesterday afternoon, two Senate staffers and two Capitol Police officers puffed away inside their basement hideaway, a cramped, room stuck amid maintenance closets and stacks of bottled water. A ceiling-mounted ventilation box drew up their fumes as they ate lunch, smoked Marlboros and worked Sudoku puzzles.
Paul Billings of the American Lung Association said that smoking room and others ought to be eliminated, too. “This is a first step, we want to extend smoke-free to all workplaces in the congressional complex,” said Billings, whose organization has collected 9,000 signatures on a petition asking Congress to ban all smoking on Capitol Hill.
Now who the hell are a group of workers in a ventilated concrete room in the basement going to hurt? No one has to enter that room except the smokers. What would it harm to leave these Sudoku-playing-Marlboro-smoking capital-police-officers a concrete basement storage room where they can have a cigarette with lunch?
At least its refreshing when statements like Billings’ above don’t conceal the fact that for a lot of anti-smoking advocates, the crusade isn’t exclusively concerned with the dangers of second-hand smoke, and in fact wants to prevent all smoking, everywhere, because we find it distasteful and we don’t like it and we don’t like the tobacco companies and anyway it’s bad for you dammit don’t you know its bad for you and that we’re in a better position to decide whether you should do it than you are you poor misguided souls?
Relatedly, William Saletan at Slate reports today that Bangor, Maine is now banning smoking in cars where those under 18 are present, following in the heels of similar bans in parts of Arkansas and Louisiana. Says Saletan:
Ban supporters’ arguments: 1) Passive smoke poisons kids. 2) They can’t protect themselves. 3) Their illnesses raise health-care costs for everyone. 4) If we pass this, other cities will copy us. Opponents’ arguments: 1) Smokers are decent enough not to smoke around kids. 2) This is anti-smoking jihadism dressed up as child protection. 3) Government has no business meddling in our cars. 4) Kids get more passive smoke at home than in cars. Human Nature’s prediction: Next, a ban on smoking at home when kids are present.
When I lived in Ohio, a city nearby was considering a similar car-smoking ban, and I was outraged. Now it just seems inevitable (although I’d like to see how these places really plan to enforce it).