Ban on public smoking
Juniper StreetHere is paternalism in action against the lower orders:
Smoking would be prohibited in public housing homes nationwide under a proposed federal rule to be announced on Thursday, a move that would affect nearly one million households and open the latest front in the long-running campaign to curb unwanted exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
Since the federal government began to press for smoking bans in public housing in 2009, more than 600 agencies encompassing over 200, 000 households have voluntarily barred indoor smoking. In moving to require the prohibitions across the country, federal officials say they are acting to protect residents from secondhand smoke, which can travel through walls and under doors; to reduce the risk of fires; and to lower building maintenance costs.
As The New York Times reports, this is more like the last action of an ongoing government policy rather than the start of a new campaign against a substance that, while still technically legal, is arguably as vilified in popular culture and tax policy. Indeed, in every day life, I'd say there's little question that being a pot smoker is less likely to raise an eyebrow than being a tobacco user.
So what comes next, after tobacco smoke is banned in federally funded or supported housing? Despite posing virtually none of the personal health hazards of smoking, vaping is everywhere under attack because it mimics the act of smoking. Chewing tobacco doesn't present the same externalities (real and imagined) of secondhand smoke, but it poses health risks, which are likely to be paid for by taxpayers (if you're living in public housing, aren't you more likely to be receiving various sorts of other tax-funded support)?
The proposed rule would require housing agencies to prohibit lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings. The rule would not apply initially to electronic cigarettes, but federal officials are seeking input about whether to ban them.
Individual housing authorities can be as restrictive as they want, extending the prohibition to areas near playgrounds, for instance, or making their entire grounds smoke-free, officials said.
The Times quotes one resident who expresses frustration with the proposed ban:
“What I do in my apartment should be my problem, long as I pay my rent, ” said Gary Smith, 47, a cigarette in hand as he sat outside the door to a building in the Walt Whitman Houses in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.
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