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Smoke-Free, Stressed-Out Living

by on April 26, 2010

You can’t smoke while at work, in restaurants, at bars, and, depending how stifling a particular community is, within the public portion of the outdoors.  But at least you can still light up at home.

Or maybe not.  The public/private consortium of health bullies that is the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition is goading landlords into banning smoking on their properties.  I’d advise you to put that in your pipe and smoke it- while you can.

Specifically, the Smoke-Free Home effort demonstrates the faction’s concern with what you do when you’re in your residence with the door shut and blinds closed.  For one, they’ve made it so those renting housing must tell you if lighting up is allowed:

The City of Buffalo, working with the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition passed a Landlord Disclosure Law, as part of the Rental Dwelling Unit Registration (Chapter 264, Section 264-11). This is the first law of this type to be passed not only in New York State, but also on the east coast.

The old system, where concerned tenants asked about the smoking policy, apparently relied too much on people being responsible.  The law represents an effort to take care of you without caring about whether you want to take it.

The government is rather actively involved.  Same coalition’s membership list includes a mixture of private and public joyless busybodies.  As for the latter, there are three groups listed with .gov addresses.

On top of that, there are others like something called Reality Check, whose site feels like an attempt by marketers to be with it and engage in hip lingo with the young people.  Oh yeah, and it’s a “youth-led movement within the New York State Department of Health Tobacco Control Program,” which one can learn upon uncovering a group history link buried on the site map.

Together, the groups want to be friends with landlords, even if it takes a bit of wheel-greasing.  As the Smoke-Free Home site notes, the building owners in question can

Take advantage of going smoke-free – we can help you:

-Save money

-Receive up to $500 towards marketing your property

-Increase the value of your property

-Improve the health of your tenants

Specifically, they offer to reimburse some of the cost for advertising a tobacco fume-free unit.  It gives no indication to how much, if any, public funding is used; an inquiring e-mail had not yet been answered at the time I clicked “Publish.”  Regardless, having a government-connected entity at best merely associated with an effort to financially promote particular businessmen sounds… about right, sadly.

They also have a listing of apartments available where lighting and puffing are prohibited.  The link is unavailable here because I didn’t include it.  For the conglomerate, the alternative is nearly too horrid to ponder.  On the site, they treat smoke like it’s an unstoppable zombie plague from a Roger Corman-produced Off Beat Cinema offering.  Look out for The Creeping Smoke!

Smoke drifting from lit tobacco products and/or exhaled by smokers seeps into the living spaces of other tenants and common areas of residential buildings. Secondhand smoke (SHS) travels through lighting fixtures, cracks in walls, around plumbing, under doors and shared heating/ventilation.

Weatherstripping won’t save us, although we’re ultimately safe due to the imaginary nature of the specter.  But that won’t stop the group from hyping fears about the emanations from a lit cigarette traveling through a room, under a door, through a hallway, under another door, and into another room.

They’re also not particularly concerned with your trifling desire to live how you want.  To wit, the site also contains a section of odious tips for tenants, which includes this remarkable statement regarding their legal view of little lit tobacco sticks:

Smoking is not a right guaranteed under the Constitution. You have a right to ask landlords/management companies to protect you from unwanted SHS and to expect reasonable action.

It’s true the right to tobacco indulgence is not spelled out in either in the original text nor in any particular Amendment, although that’s a rather preposterous way to approach individual rights.  What else do you like to do that isn’t explicitly written down in the Constitution?  Meanwhile, it’s not like the government is encouraging lawsuits.  Oh, wait- yeah they are:

Tenants are beginning to bring lawsuits regarding secondhand smoke, and some are winning.

Why not sue if the stereo’s too loud?  Maybe the courts are the best place to turn if a neighbor’s haughty cat flashes you a dirty look, too.  After all, coercing private entities to conform to their will is their way.

The association doesn’t trust anyone to handle negotiations themselves.  Landlords have every right to deem their properties smoke-free, just as tenants have every right to look for such policies if they desire.  If this is what owners and leasers mutually want, smoke-free buildings will naturally come into existence.  Governmental groups needn’t involve themselves, although it’s too late for that.

Instead, facets of the area’s administration have involved themselves in a Roswell Park-based initiative.  They’re severely concerned with oozing smoke they believe has diabolically itinerant properties, including the ability to wreak havoc in private buildings.

Yes, they should find something better to do considering the myriad problems facing the area.  Either way, good intentions are no excuse for minor-league coercion performed in the name of dubious health concerns.

The only thing worse than getting hassled by fellow citizens is when they gain partial governmental support.  All of the laws, financing, and efforts could have been made redundant if they allowed anyone bothered by a building with smoking going on inside to look elsewhere or talk to the landlord.  The anti-smoking assemblage has once again made your individual business their own.  At least they’re consistent.

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