My editor Patrick Lalley stirred up a hornet’s nest with his column complaining about how one principle effect of South Dakota’s smoking ban has been to render otherwise-pleasant outdoor seating a de facto smoking area.
You can read some of the reader reactions to his column at his blog here. But as a policy note, I’ve expected this debate to arise ever since the smoking ban passed.
What some other states have, and South Dakota’s ban does not, is a clause forbidding smoking not just within public buildings, but within so many feet of the entrance of public buildings. The idea — particularly relevant during winter when people huddle to avoid the cold — is that people trying to avoid cigarette smoke aren’t helped when they have to pass through a cloud of the stuff every time they walk in or out of an establishment. It would also apply to many of these outdoor seating areas with which Lalley is concerned. Smokers view this as insult to injury — they already went outside to smoke, now you want them to take 10 steps away from the door?
So far the American Cancer Society and other anti-smoking activists haven’t pushed to amend South Dakota’s smoking ban to include such a clause. Will we see that soon?