The city council considered an expanded smoking ban this morning—one that minimizes people’s “exposure to secondhand smoke at and around buildings owned by the City,” by barring smoking within 50 feet of any city owned building or building occupied by city employees, including “driveways, planting strips, sidewalks and pedestrian ways within 50 feet of the building.” Though the statewide smoking ban that will go into effect in January 2009 does essentially the same thing, the city is acting now thanks to “an increasing number of complaints from employees about other employees smoking,” says Tom Feely, the city’s Senior Business Operations Manager.
The Portland Building—that blue monstrosity next door to city hall—is a major target of this ban. There’s a covered walkway on the west side of the building, where smokers congregate to stay out of the rain. There’s also a few cafes, bike parking, and a day care along the same covered walkway.
But where, Commissioners Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman asked, are those smokers supposed to go? (The ban, written by Leonard’s office, has four co-sponsors—everyone but Saltzman, actually—so it’s pretty much guaranteed to pass when it’s up for a second reading next week.)
“With winter coming around the corner, I’m thinking of employees stepping out in the elements,” Saltzman said. He asked Feely to look into an alternate location for city employees to smoke away, out of the rain—perhaps in the Portland Building’s secure underground garage. “I would appreciate it if you could at least look into it.”
Leonard seconded that request. He wants to see if the city can “reasonably accommodate them. My issue isn’t to go after smokers.”
Feely says he’s looked into it, and there “doesn’t appear to be a reasonable place to put” a covered smoking lounge. But he’ll look again.
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