No smoking in Public Housing

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston Housing Authority has officially banned smoking at public housing locations throughout the City, as a part of ongoing efforts to promote health among residents. Not only is smoking banned throughout the residences, but it is no longer permitted within 25 feet of the entrance. Secondhand smoke is a big problem in the area, noted Vice-Chair Assata Richards (who also ran for the City Council last year. “Seniors in high rises would really complain about secondhand smoke and how it was creating health problems for them. We really want to be a part of creating safe communities for our residents, particularly our seniors and our children,” Richards said.

KTRK (Channel 13) had more on this story. Specifically, they note that a violation of this new rule could eventually lead to eviction of residents. Additionally, it notes that the Housing Authority bases its new policy not only on the ostensible health of its residents, but because of cost issues. When a smoker leaves the residence, the authority typically refinishes the premises, leading to a higher overall bill. Still, the channel noted that many residents were upset by the new policy.

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University of Houston bans smoking

The Chron (paywall) reports that the University of Houston has will officially ban smoking on June 1st. The ban will include “cigarettes, cigars, pipes, water pipes, electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco…” While smoking in all buildings is already banned, the new measures announced the past few days will prohibit smoking in most outdoor areas, except for a few specially marked “designated open areas” for smoking, which are ostensibly far away from sidewalks and buildings.

No good deed goes unpunished, however. The Libertarians, Objectivists and the rest of the cupcake cadets call the regulation “fascism at its worse.” What is really concerning is not only their neurological disorder which prevents them from EVER being told what to do (that is expect, at the point), but the fact that opponents of such a ban dispute the notion that secondhand smoke is harmful. When you start believing the FDA is undergoing some sort of massive conspiracy about secondhand smoke in order to deprive your liberty, then I have a tin-hat I’d like to sell you. This is just another example of how far the goalposts have been moved to the right in this country. I remember an old Lewis Black routine, where he said “I never thought that during the course of my life, a president would be elected who didn’t believe in evolution,” in, of course, an obvious jab to then-President George W. Bush. In similar shock and disbelief, I did not believe we would ever have a significant political movement comprised of so many theoretically educated members that disputes such clear science.

For what it is worth, I find it to be overkill banning smokeless tobacco, but I am very happy to see that there will not be so much actual cigarette smoking on campus anymore. No matter what the idiot Libertarians will argue, secondhand smoke really is quite harmful. Accordingly, when you smoke a cigarette in public, especially in a place with a lot of young people, you are not just physically harming yourself. I tend to make one very strong exception to my rule that “people should be allowed to basically do what they want”: harm to others. If your personal choice carries a strong risk oh physical harm to innocent bystanders, then I air on the side of preventing harm. Hence, why I am pro-Gun Control.

My college up in Boston basically allows smoking anywhere outside (including like 5 feet away from the doors). It is not an annoyance, it makes it painful to walk between the buildings. Also, when it is 10 degrees (farenheit) outside, it does not help to hold your breath and run. When I visited UT last month, I found their smoking ban to be quite nice. It is a good step for UH to follow.

Senate passes bill to ban smoking at Capitol

The Trib reports that the State Senate has passed a broad funding bill, pertaining to State Preservation, which includes a particular amendment by Senator Whitmire. Whitmire successfully introduced an amendment to ban smoking on the grounds of the State Capitol.

The measure would make the offense a Class C Misdemeanor, similar to smoking on school grounds. Evidently, the Department of Public Safety would be enforcing the measure. The roll call vote passed the amendment 23 to 6. All six nay votes were Republicans, surprise surprise. Thankfully, my State Senator, Joan Huffman, was not among them. According to the Trib article, Huffman lauded the “conservative approach” of Senator Whitmire.

I was just at the Capitol last weekend, and I didn’t notice too much smoke. However, it was Easter weekend and the legislature wasn’t in session, so I suppose it isn’t really a fair comparison. Austin is a nice city to be outside in, and smokers shouldn’t ruin it for everyone. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that UT bans smoking on campus. I have yet to find a single college in Boston that can say the same. It seems that once it becomes warm enough to go outside here, the nicotine slaves come out in full force. I certainly can empathize with the Senators who discussed their problems with having to walk through clouds of smoke to get to the building.