The Logic of Smoking Regulation: Your Apartment Is Now a Public Place

Dana Yates of the San Mateo, California Daily Journal brings us a bracing look at the future of tobacco regulation – a total ban on public smoking. And yes, that includes apartments and everyplace that isn’t a “single-family detached residence.” Take it away, Dana:

Armed with growing evidence that second-hand smoke causes negative health effects, the [Belmont, California town] council chose to pursue the strictest law possible and deal with any legal challenges later. Last month, the council said it wanted to pursue a law similar to ones passed in Dublin and the Southern California city of Calabasas. It took up the cause after a citizen at a senior living facility requested smoke be declared a public nuisance, allowing him to sue neighbors who smoke.

That’s right, cranky senior citizens with a litigous streak are now in charge. But it’s not just the smokers next door who are the problem. It’s anyone who might be walking by:

“You can’t walk down the street with a beer, but you can have a cigarette,” [Councilman Dave] Warden said. “You shouldn’t be allowed to do that.”

Personally, I think you shouldn’t be allowed to use local elected office to criminalize personal behavior you happen to find unpleasant or foolish. But I guess that’s why Dave is a Belmont city councilman and I’m just a think tank guy.

Read Jason’s take on the ban here.