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Archive for Sunday, August 17, 2014

Some Lawrence residents say 10-foot smoking rule not being enforced

August 17, 2014

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After it became law in 2010, the statewide smoking ban meant that people in Lawrence could no longer light up within 10 feet of the entrance to a public building.

The city of Lawrence added the provision to its existing smoking ordinance, leaving it up to the fire department to carry out the regulation. But four years later, some Lawrence residents who signed a recent petition to ban smoking on Massachusetts Street think the rule isn't being enforced.

"I often take my small grandchildren downtown, and they love it. But there's one particular restaurant I don't even go to because you have to pass through a gauntlet of smoke just to get in the front door," said Carole Tomlinson, a Lawrence biologist and grandmother of 15 who signed the petition.

"I don't mean to be rude toward anyone who smokes. But it's a fact that if you don't smoke it's not pleasant to breathe, and it's not healthy for children's lungs. That's why that ban was started in the first place."

The discussion about Lawrence's smoking laws was sparked by the petition to ban smoking on Massachusetts Street, which was started by a local software developer. His petition now has nearly 200 signatures, with several of the signees noting that enforcing the 10-foot rule would go a long way toward fixing the problem.

Mayor Mike Amyx, however, said he believes downtown businesses are doing their best to follow the local smoking ordinance.

"If it does get out of hand, I assume people are … asking people to move away from the door," he said. "Right now I guess I'm pleased with what's going on. It seems to be working."

The 2010 Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act leaves it up to local law enforcement to enforce the ban on smoking within 10 feet of doorways, open windows and air intakes. In Lawrence, the ordinance is enforced by the fire department on a complaint-only basis.

"We don't go through and actually walk through restaurants and walk up and down streets to see if people are smoking within 10 feet," said Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford. "We very seldom, if ever, get a smoking ordinance complaint. I don't know that we'd ever had a 10-foot issue before."

Lawrence police spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley said the police department would assist the fire department in enforcing the ordinance if requested but also "does not patrol areas looking for violations."

In a statement, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department said it "encourages residents to file a complaint with the fire department."

It added that residents are welcome to join LiveWell Lawrence's new tobacco-free living work group, and can learn more by visiting www.LiveWellLawrence.org or contacting community health planner Charlie Bryan at 785-843-3060.

Steven Bruner, a Lawrence family doctor who advocated for the city's original 2004 indoor smoking ban, said he believes outdoor secondhand smoke is more of an irritant than a health problem. "As we have become less and less exposed to cigarette smoke, it becomes more and more annoying because we're not used to it," he said. "It's right up there with popcorn as something you can smell even in diluted concentrations."

However, a 2012 study by several public health organizations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at outdoor secondhand exposure after finding that indoor smoking bans had pushed many cigarette users outside establishments or near entrances. The study determined that exposure to smoke outdoors "may increase risks of health effects associated with tobacco carcinogens."

City Commissioner Bob Schumm said that while he believes a complete ban on smoking on Massachusetts Street would probably be a step too far, there are other potential solutions, including marking on the street or sidewalk where the 10-foot zone would be.

"I think I would be more in favor of coming up with a solution to enforce or zone where people would be allowed to smoke," he said, "and hopefully that would answer the question."

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 months, 1 week ago

Enforcement will require citizens to call the fire department or LPD if quick enforcement is desired. Without call in complaints nothing will change. Business people will not voluntarily chase off their customers.

Perhaps business people would consider setting up outdoor smoking on the alley side…… for those who have the option.

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Fred Mertz 2 months, 1 week ago

How are the businesses trying to comply when they allow smoking on the patio and put tables in the 10 foot zone?

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Rebecca Woolfolk 2 months, 1 week ago

"I don't mean to be rude toward anyone who smokes. But it's a fact that if you don't smoke it's not pleasant to breathe, and it's not healthy for children's lungs. That's why that ban was started in the first place."

Whether breathing smoke is pleasant or unpleasant is an opinion not a fact.

As Dr. Bruner pointed out, outdoor second hand smoke is more of an irritant than a health problem. In the 2012 study cited to rebut Dr. Bruner's statement, the subjects sat in the outdoor smoking area for 3 hours. They didn't just walk past a smoker.

As far as why the ban was started in the first place, I suspect it has more to do with hysteria and oversensitivity than either of the "facts" cited. When you're out in public, you're going to come in contact with behaviors you may have to just learn to tolerate if they're not harming you. And I'm not convinced anyone is harmed by a few smokers on Massachusetts Street. There are things people do that I don't like as well. I just leave, ignore it, or ask myself how much this really matters in the larger scheme of things.

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Greg DiVilbiss 2 months, 1 week ago

I think the fact that they are smoking outside is enough, the 10 foot rule was never enforceable from the beginning. Unenforceable rules SHOULD NOT be a part of any ordinance.

I do not like smoking either and just walking through it after a concert at one of our venues is enough to cause my clothes to smell a bit, however I was able to enjoy my meal or show without having to breathe it. I don't think that washing my clothes is too much of an inconvenience. That smokers are banished outside the door is enough for me,

Just what we need is our fire department or police...being hall monitors. I guess some people will not be satisfied until their way of life, is the only way of life....Give it a rest! Sheeeesh!

If you really want to clean the air do something about that ancient coal burning plant north of Lawrence.

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Richard Heckler 2 months ago

The popular conception of nuclear power is straight out of The Simpsons: Springfield abounds with signs of radioactivity, from the strange glow surrounding Mr. Burn's nuclear power plant workers to Homer's low sperm count. Then there's the local superhero, Radioactive Man, who fires beams of "nuclear heat" from his eyes. Nuclear power, many people think, is inseparable from a volatile, invariably lime-green, mutant-making radioactivity.

Coal, meanwhile, is believed responsible for a host of more quotidian problems, such as mining accidents, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions. But it isn't supposed to spawn three-eyed fish like Blinky.

Over the past few decades, however, a series of studies has called these stereotypes into question. Among the surprising conclusions: the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts.

In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.

At issue is coal's content of uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements. They occur in such trace amounts in natural, or "whole," coal that they aren't a problem. But when coal is burned into fly ash, uranium and thorium are concentrated at up to 10 times their original levels.

Fly ash uranium sometimes leaches into the soil and water surrounding a coal plant, affecting cropland and, in turn, food. People living within a "stack shadow"—the area within a half- to one-mile (0.8- to 1.6-kilometer) radius of a coal plant's smokestacks—might then ingest small amounts of radiation. Fly ash is also disposed of in landfills and abandoned mines and quarries, posing a potential risk to people living around those areas.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs163-97/FS-163-97.html

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2 months ago

This comment is posted all over the net by bots, just google for 'The popular conception of nuclear power is straight out of The Simpsons: Springfield abounds with signs of radioactivity, from the strange glow surrounding Mr. Burn's nuclear power plant workers to Homer's low sperm count. Then there's the local superhero, Radioactive Man, who fires beams of "nuclear heat" from his eyes. Nuclear power, many people think, is inseparable from a volatile, invariably lime-green, mutant-making radioactivity."

We need to rid our comments of bots. please LJW, do your job.

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Bob Forer 2 months ago

If many Kansans were not so intimidated of other people, the law could be easily enforced by the community.

A polite "excuse me, did you know there was a ordinance prohibiting smoking within ten feet of an entrance to any public building. I'd hate to see somebody call in a complaint and you getting a ticket" would suffice.

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Bob Smith 2 months ago

Could somebody check and see if there are any tar balls in my pretty hair?

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Leslie Swearingen 2 months ago

Those aren't tar balls, don't let the lemurs go to sleep on your head. :-)

Leslie

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Wayne Kerr 2 months ago

I think the reason that the ten foot rule generally isn't enforced on Mass. street is that it would effectively require smokers to stand in the street. I'm not a smoker myself and I find it hard to believe people would stop going to a restaurant like the Free State because they have to walk for maybe ten seconds through a smoking area at the front door. Come on people, did you forget how to hold your breath for ten seconds?

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Ned Wolfsosoon 2 months ago

If the store front is 20 feet wide, and the 3 foot front door is in the middle of the store front, there isn't enough room to have a smoking section 10' away from the front door anyway.

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Fred Mertz 2 months ago

Right and no smoking should be allowed at the store front.

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Sam Crow 2 months ago

Before I call to report someone to the authorities, I need some clarification from the anti smoking zealots about the law.

What if someone has one foot in the line, and one foot out? Are they considered in or out of the zone?

Does the entire foot have to be over the line, or is the line part of the area within the line?

What if both feet are in the line, but the hand and coals are outside the line? And the exhale is away from the building?

What if the entire body is outside the line, but the person is exhaling towards within the line?

Can someone go back and forth across the line? Or is it like the half court line rule in basketball where once you cross the line you cant return?

Like basketball, what is someone is near the line and is forced in by bumping from someone else?

Should I record the crime for use by the prosecutor?

Will I be asked to testify in court as a witness?

If I leave the area before the authorities arrive, can I be charged for leaving the scene of a smoking?

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Phillip Chappuie 2 months ago

The ball must break the plane of the goal line.

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Scott Quenette 2 months ago

I tried to do something as simple and innocent and bringing my children down to get ice cream and I couldn't keep my 1 year old from picking up cigarette butts all over the place. If ever there was a symbol of the lack of consideration of smokers, that's it.

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Elizabeth Stancliffe 2 months ago

I cannot believe people are so petty. I am sure the cops and fire department will love it if someone calls this in.

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Carol Bowen 2 months ago

Whichever city commission established this ordinance probably discussed it over a long period of time. I recall a lot of news articles on this topic. I am puzzled though. Entryways typically have a ten foot radius of no smoking. But I recall the clubs creating outdoor eating and drinking so that people who smoke would have a place to sit.

P.S. I don't go downtown anymore. There's nothing appealing.

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Greg DiVilbiss 2 months ago

I personally find it really hard to believe there is nothing appealing to you downtown. From the Library, To the live music, from the Museum, to the Restaurants, the arts and craft fairs, to the mom and pop retailers, the Art Center and the art installations, the farmers market what has to be one of the oldest department stores in the region, etc....

Interesting that you can find NOTHING appealing....

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Jim Schilling 2 months ago

It seems that if there was a concern with enforcement that the authorities would focus on citing and fining the businesses which is part of the Indoor Clean Air Act. At least it is according the the fact sheet at kssmokefree.org that shows the fine structure. If the businesses would get the fines I suppose they'd have no choice but to enforce it themselves within the 10 foot zone. My stance is that it got moved outside already so I'm fine with it without any additional enforcement.

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