San Francisco Expands Ban on Outdoor Smoking

San Francisco has become just the latest jurisdiction to extend bans on outdoor smoking - following other smoking bans on beaches and even in private homes, as well as refusals to hire smokers, says founder of movement
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* Washington - District of Columbia - US

July 20, 2012 - PRLog -- San Francisco has become just the latest jurisdiction to extend bans on outdoor smoking by now prohibiting it at a wide variety of outdoor events. This is an incremental step forward, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, the father of the nonsmokers' rights movement, but still far short of jurisdictions like Calabasas which have long banned smoking in most outdoor areas, including on sidewalks, in mall parking lots, etc. - permitting it outdoors only in small so-called "smoking outposts."

So far, more than 100 jurisdictions have banned smoking on beaches, with famed Ocean City poised to join them.  The reasons range from health hazards and annoyance to nonsmokers on blankets downwind from smoking beachgoes, to the huge costs to taxpayers of cleaning up discarded cigarette butts, and the inappropriateness of unnecessarily exposing young children to adult activities like smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc.

The movement to ban smoking even within private apartments is also growing, with Santa Monica now joining Alameda, Baldwin Park, Burbank, Calabasas, Compton, Elk Ridge, Huntington Park, Pasadena, Santa Clara, and South Pasadena.  Although many of these bans are recent, the movement to ban smoking in private dwellings began more than 20 years ago, says Banzhaf, who was involved in some of the earliest proceedings.

Going even further, more companies - recently including Baylor Health Care System in Texas, the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, and Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania - are refusing to hire smokers as employees, hoping to save over $10,000 for every nonsmoking employee hired, and to protect their public image.

Meanwhile, some 40%  of major companies are charging smokers as much as $2000/yr more for health insurance than nonsmokers - a surcharge which could skyrocket in 2014 when the Affordable Health Care Act kicks in to permit 50% surcharges on smokers without any need to comply with "wellness" plan requirements.  This is consistent with surveys and studies which show growing public support for penalizing smokers.

All this apparently led to FORBES to suggest: "Don't Hire Smokers."

It's now clear that there's no right to smoke - not within or even outside of workplaces, outdoors, or even in one's own dwelling, says Banzhaf, and the great majority of the public who are nonsmokers are sick and tired of being forced to pay most of the huge costs smokers impose on them every year in the form of higher taxes and inflated health insurance premiums.

Bans have been shown to be the most effective - and certainly one of the cheapest - ways to discourage this smoking, and to slash these huge and totally unnecessary costs, so smoking bans serve at least two purposes: protecting the rights of nonsmokers, and reducing the costs smokers impose on society by helping them to quit.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW, Suite S402
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418!/profbanzhaf
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