The common claim that America is the “land of the free” continues to look ever more hollow. The latest of many targets of the authoritarian paternalists is smoking at home. Localities are increasingly banning smoking in apartments or condos. Reports USA Today on two California cities:
Next Tuesday, the City Council of Belmont is scheduled to cast a final vote on an ordinance that would ban smoking in apartments and condos. The measure, which won initial approval last week, could trigger fines and evictions if neighbors complain and smokers don’t heed repeated warnings.
In Calabasas on Wednesday, the City Council discussed a proposal that would expand its anti-smoking law to bar lighting up inside existing apartments and most new condos. The council agreed to request changes to the measure that would exempt all condos and set aside a certain percentage of apartments for smokers, says city spokesman Michael Hafken. It is slated to consider the revised proposal next month.
The legislative push, which has triggered death threats against council members in both cities, is a controversial part of a mostly voluntary effort to prod landlords and condo associations to adopt smoke-free policies…
“The time has come. The evils of smoking have been known for decades,” says Barry Groveman, a Calabasas councilman who co-wrote the proposal.
Still, he knows he’s struck a nerve. “I’ve gotten threats like you wouldn’t believe,” Groveman says.
“Fresh air should be breathed by everybody,” Belmont Mayor Coralin Feierbach says. She cites a 2006 surgeon general’s report that says no level of secondhand smoke is risk-free.
In my view, smoking is stupid. I don’t allow it in my home. I wish my friends who smoked would stop. But any country that purports to be the “land of the free” should actually be free. And that most assuredly means the legal right to smoke in one’s home, whatever one’s neighbors, friends, family members, doctors, and elected officials think.