The state of Washington has passed a new anti-smoking law. Unlike other states that have similar laws (such as California and Maine), Washington not only forbids smoking inside but also forbid smoking outside. Smokers are not allowed to light up anywhere within 25 feet of a door to any bar or restaurant.

“What are we supposed to do,” said Tracy Godfrey, a longtime waitress at Mimosas, a blue-collar diner in nearby Renton, “go out there with a measuring tape so we can tell the smokers where to stand?” Well, yes. The new law requires owners of restaurants, bars, stores and any other public place to do just that, and then draw a line. Some bar owners have been drawing lines in chalk outside in parking lots, designating where their smokers may stand. Others have put up little shacks or tents, as at Bergie’s, where the sign on the shelter read, “Offering our customers a heated, semi-enclosed area with alcohol service.”

Anybody who is smoking within that 25 feet or inside a bar or restaurant is subject to a $100 fine. The new law is very popular, as evidenced by its large margin in the statewide referendum. When Maine was in the process of passing a similar law, I was against it because I did not want people to be loitering outside of the restaurants I frequented and blocking my way in, leaving litter all over the sidewalks. Once the law passed, I was quite happy since it is a much better experience for a non-smoker such as myself. I can’t imagine that the smokers are too happy with the additional 25 foot radius ban, which may be a bit excessive. It certainly does help to prevent the loitering and blocking of the exit, however.

I think that a place that has the outdoor heated shack is likely to have a good draw for any smoker, especially somewhere in the north such as Washington state. If the ban remains popular, I wonder if more states that enact anti-smoking laws will adopt this tougher version of the law from Washington, or just ban smoking in restaurants as had been the case before. I also wonder if states that have already banned smoking inside will try to make their existing laws tougher.

(Source: Health and Fitness Blog)