THANK YOU FOR NOT SMOKING!
Monday, October 1, our city put into "effect" their new smoking ordinance for the entire City of Grand Rapids. The way the ordinance reads, smoking is prohibited in all public buildings except restaurants, bars, and hotels. So basically, just a bunch of crap. When an article in the local paper appeared on Monday, it included opinions from smokers, but not non smokers. Some of the complaints of the smokers was that they felt like they were being treated unfairly, etc. having to go outside for all their smoking needs, claiming that they don't just "blow smoke in people's faces." The article goes on to say that smokers need to "take it outside," meaning their smoking, and must stay at least 10 feet from any building doorway or exhaust system. Ha!
What gets me, and prompted me to write a letter to the editor in complaint, was now these people are everywhere non-smokers want to go now. During lunch hour, no matter where you walk, someone is out and about smoking, blowing smoke in my face. And then to not restrict it from restaurants makes no sense at all. In Michigan, as I suspect in many states, smoking is prohibited in all local, state, and federal office buildings, and most privately owned business already have a no smoking policy in effect. So exactly what is the point of this new "ordinance"? All it really does is forces people outside so the rest of us have to suffer.
Not too long ago, I was out running on the track and there were two people walking and smoking! They have to get away from the hospital grounds, which is across the street, so they either line up against the fence by the track, puffing away, or they actually walk on the track to do their smoking. Senseless! And what about us who don't smoke?
Then last week I was running in the morning and ran by a McDonalds and a guy in a wheelchair sitting in the parking lot tried to stop me. Thinking he needed some assistance with the door or something, while I was cautious about some kind of trap, as I approached, I found out all he really wanted was a cigarette. Oh yeah, wait until I get them out of my pocket! I'm out running you idiot! Duh!
And then there are the people from my office. Our building began enforcing the new policy months ago, to get ready for October 1. So what do these people do now? Go sit in their cars with the windows down and smoke. And I'm talking about underground parking. Or they measure out exactly how far they need to be away from the doorway and then lean on anyone's car that happens to be in the range, smoking away. Any way you look at it, they are still fouling the air that I breathe, so I don't like it!
One thing I want to be clear on: While I detest smoking and cigarette smoke, and WILL NOT go to restaurants that don't have some decent no smoking areas available or don't allow it at all, I am not in favor of mandatory, governmental restriction. If I had it my way, smokers would be restricted to their own homes and cars, with windows closed. What I am in favor of is some sort of sensibility in this ordinance and not some lame attempt to be complying with any clean air act. Clean air in or out is air others breathe.
I realize the restaurants think they will lose business (I think not!), and I'm sure there is some sort of lobbying going on to the prevent the ordinance from really meaning something, but Grand Rapids, you can do better.