To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What To Say To A Nanny Stater

Besides, "Fuck off." Some of you may know that Washington State, where I live, has the most far-reaching smoking ban in the country. No exemptions for cigar bars or private clubs. Especially problematic is the 25 foot rule, which bans smoking within 25 feet of the entrance, air vents or windows that can open of any publicly-accessible building. In a dense city like Seattle that means you cannot legally smoke outdoors almost anywhere unless you are in a park or walking past said publicly-accessible building.

According to the law, only cops and the public health "authorities" can enforce the law, but we've had the odd situation develop here where near coffee houses and such, non-smokers who sit outside have decided they don't like smokers around, so they'll go to a shop's manager and tell them that if they don't police the sidewalk then the non smoker will call in a complaint to the public health department which can then hassle the shop manager.

So last year, during the ban's first spring, my local coffee shop--OK, there are four coffee shops within three blocks of my apartment--put up signs stating that it was against state law to smoke within 25 feet of their windows. Several of us smoker types pointed out to the shop's managers that we'd continue smoking on the sidewalk, which the shop doesn't own or control of course, whether they liked it or not. Things cooled down, fall came, the windows were closed against the rain and the signs came down.

The other day, the signs were back up. I asked one of the baristas--someone who undercharges me so that I over tip him on slow shifts--what the deal was. "We don't want smokers around," he said. "I like the windows open and I don't want smoke coming in."

"So how are you handling the cars and buses that go past?"

He sighed as if I truly didn't get it. "It's the law."

"And I am getting a new coffee shop," I said.

And I've been going to the Starbuck's down the street ever since. And I hate Starbuck's.

Labels: , ,