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Thursday, June 5, 2008

You Can’t Smoke There

posted by on June 5 at 10:28 AM

At Seattle Central Community College, signs says no smoking is allowed within 50 feet of doorways that open directly to the sidewalk. What’s that to mean?


“Any door or window, you’ve got to be 50 feet away to smoke,” said Richard, a passerby who read one of the signs last night. He couldn’t remember which, he said, but the 50-foot rule is either a city or a state law. Of course, it’s neither.

Since I-901 went into effect in late 2005, Washington’s indoor smoking ban has prohibited people from smoking within 25 feet of a workplace’s door or window. But if people are within 50 feet of the Seattle Central building shown above (next to a large parking lot that provides a 26-to-50 foot range for legal smoking), college spokeswoman Laura Mansfield says, “We ask them to back up.”

The college implemented the rule, Mansfield says, because 25 feet didn’t provide faculty “enough room to enter a building without encountering smoke.”

Dan Sytman from the State Attorney General’s Office says the 25-foot rule is only a presumptive limit. However, he notes, that although the statute explicitly allows business owners to make more lenient rules, “the law makes no mention of a longer distance.”

“Any business can create their own policy that is far and away more than the state law,” clarifies Scott Neal of the county health department’s Tobacco Prevention Program, which penalizes establishments that violate the smoking rules. “Can I come in there and enforce it?” he says. “No.” That’s up to the Seattle Police Department, he says.

So will the SPD enforce Seattle Central’s sign? “I don’t believe that they can dictate or say you have to be beyond this point to smoke when the law says 25 feet,” says police spokeswoman Renée Witt. “We could only enforce the 25-feet rule.”

RSS icon Comments


Is the 50 foot rule at SCCC why there's always 20 people right outside the doors smoking?

I've never seen SCCC security enforce that rule. They'll leave you a nasty note if you lock your bike to a railing, but they'll ignore you if you smoke.

Shit, SCCC used to have smoking balconies in the building. I think those went away like a year ago.

Posted by Graham | June 5, 2008 10:34 AM

First of all, I am a nonsmoker...that being said...
People stand on street corners sucking up car exhaust(anywhere in the city really) but I dont hear boo about that carbon monoxide going into people's lungs. When will the enforce that an idling car must be at least 25 feet away from anyone breathing? Its great that they made this law for smoking, but what about exhaust spewing gas powered cars?
What a huge pile of hypocrisy WASHINGTON!
Well, pile of something anyway.

Posted by Christianflkr | June 5, 2008 10:35 AM

No business can make any kind of rule at all about what people are allowed to do on public property, including that street and that sidewalk. The SPD can enforce the state law because it's a STATE LAW, but SCCC has ZERO say in the matter. Crap like this makes me want to go down there with a tape measure and smoke at the 25.1 foot line, and blow it directly toward the door, and I don't even smoke.

Posted by Fnarf | June 5, 2008 10:38 AM

Why stop at 50 feet SCCC? Why not 50 miles?

It doesn't matter really- I'm still going to laugh in your face either way when you try to enforce it.

Posted by Camel Toe Joe | June 5, 2008 10:43 AM

It's just a sign. They might not be able to legally enforce it, but they can request it. Some people will ignore the sign, but others will see the sign and respect it. What's the big deal?

Posted by Nick | June 5, 2008 10:44 AM

Smoking is so 20th-century.

Posted by rb | June 5, 2008 10:46 AM

why is this such a big deal? is it that slow of a news day?

Posted by cook | June 5, 2008 10:47 AM

@2: Running outside, in the open air, with a catalytic converter, I doubt the car is putting out serious amounts of carbon monoxide.

Posted by Greg | June 5, 2008 10:48 AM

to the barricades!

there's 2 wars going on, but an unfair smoking zone will bring the kids out to protest.

Posted by max solomon | June 5, 2008 10:48 AM

@5 They're not requesting it, they're DEMANDING IT.

Look at the wording- if it read "Please don't smoke within 50 feet of the building, we thank you for your cooperation" I would understand... but as it stands now, they're trying to take authority in an unenforceable manner. For that alone I'd fight against it.

Posted by Camel Toe Joe | June 5, 2008 10:52 AM

Only SCCC security could enforce the area between 25-50ft, and they could only enforce it up to the edge of SCCC property.

Posted by happy renter | June 5, 2008 10:56 AM

give me a fuckim break. seriously, people are retarded.

Posted by tfifany | June 5, 2008 10:58 AM

I say you protest by smoking twice as much! That's right, spend twice as much on your smokes, and sit at 25.1 feet puffing away, glaring at all the people who give a shit about the pinkness of their lungs. Assholes. That'll show em! Big, Red Tobacco needs you to help protect their right to make all the innocent smokers sick! Its your god given right after all! All non smokers should suffer the same as you, and shut their big mouths about it! Shit, maybe some of them will even cave in and start smoking. Anything for the cause. Finally something worth being outraged about.

Posted by ZwBush | June 5, 2008 10:59 AM

I was all for the smoking ban. I totally love being able to go into a bar that isn't choking in smoke.

But trying to enforce a 50' rule is totally stupid. In fact, it is counter productive. Since it exceeds the actual law, it only serves to confuse people, and they can't enforce it. They simply open themselves up to ridicule (like here on Slog).

Lame, lame, lame.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | June 5, 2008 11:06 AM

Remember guys, SCCC had a 50' rule LONG before I-901

Posted by happy renter | June 5, 2008 11:08 AM

Private businesses can make more lenient rules? Does that mean that a business can allow people to smoke right outside the door? I've never heard of this.

Posted by Blunderplank | June 5, 2008 11:09 AM

That sign is in error. It should read, "No POLE-smoking within 50 feet of the doorway, (unless you're in the locker room of the Student Center)"

Posted by michael strangeways | June 5, 2008 11:10 AM

Wow, that's a hard fucking hitting news story! How dare a business/institution make a policy that goes beyond state law? McDonald's wouldn't have dared banning smoking in their dining room before I-901!

People other than me should stage an elaborate protest/boycott!!!

Posted by gillsans | June 5, 2008 11:14 AM

@8, oh is that why nonsmokers get lung cancer? Prove it. And I bet you are a car owner too.

Posted by christianflikr | June 5, 2008 11:33 AM

This would also outlaw smoking in a car driving by on Broadway. So remember, drivers, you must extinguish your cigarette for the five seconds it takes you to drive past SCCC!

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 5, 2008 11:36 AM

Ha! Could you imagine if filtered car exhaust were as poisonous as cigarette smoke? There would be no life on earth. Not to say its not harmful, it most certainly is, but equated with cigarette smoke? No comparison. That shit is the devil. Think about it. idiot.

Posted by ZwBush | June 5, 2008 11:37 AM

mmmmm, that must be why the air is so nice and brown on a hot sunny day in Seattle. Yeah, its harmless. You just keep thinking that.

Posted by christianflkr | June 5, 2008 11:39 AM

awesome comeback. read my post first next time.

Posted by ZwBush | June 5, 2008 11:41 AM


Try driving a two-wheeled vehicle in traffic for a while, and then tell me which is more hazardous to someone's lungs.

Posted by COMTE | June 5, 2008 11:41 AM

Bunch of whiny little b.t.h.s ...

Universities and colleges have their own rules, in general. State universities aren't considered subject to municipal and county ordinance, just as army bases aren't subject to state ordinance, and if the particular college or university has stricter regulations under it's charter, deal with it - or move to a state that loves to smoke.

Virginia is for smokers. Don't like it here - move there. And STFU.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 5, 2008 11:55 AM
26 I beleive the gasoline study is in the works....

Posted by ZWBush | June 5, 2008 12:01 PM

Will, the college isn't just setting rules on its campus, it's setting rules on public thoroughfares.

This is a minor issue, personally. I don’t smoke and I’m asthmatic, so I relate strongly to the anti-smoking sentiment. But there’s something offensive about an institution—a public institution, no less—telling you can’t do something perfectly legal on public property. For example, the college could also post a sign that reads, “No holding hands for one mile!” Then officials could ask hand-holders to take their hand holding a mile away. That would be the college’s First Amendment right, albeit an obvious expression of opinion. The problem is that these signs suggest—to folks such as Richard—that this is the decree of law.

Posted by Dominic Holden | June 5, 2008 12:03 PM

You really are the worst blog commenter of all time, aren't you, Will?

You've never been to see the SCCC campus, have you, Will? Have another look at that photo. The sign faces onto a public sidewalk on a public street, and it doesn't matter what anybody's charter says.

Posted by Fnarf | June 5, 2008 12:24 PM

Dominic, welcome to the world of rules lawyering.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 5, 2008 12:25 PM

Iraqi families were routinely fired upon for getting too close to checkpoints, including an incident where an unarmed father driving a car was decapitated by a .50-caliber machine gun in front of his small son. Soldiers shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold alongside the road and then tossed incendiary grenades into the pools to set them ablaze. "It's fun to shoot sh-t up," a soldier said. Some opened fire on small children throwing rocks. And when improvised explosive devices (IEDS) went off, the troops fired wildly into densely populated neighborhoods, leaving behind innocent victims who became, in the callous language of war, "collateral damage."

Posted by I know Dan has changed his mind and no longer supports the war-but, gee this shit keeps happening | June 5, 2008 12:27 PM

can any of you morons actually cite the number of non-smokers who die from second hand cigarette smoke caused lung cancer last year?

Bunch of whining pussy who have bought a line of shit.

Just wait till the nanny state come for your Jaeger, Poppers, and Astroglide...

Posted by ecce homo | June 5, 2008 12:31 PM

or your architectural standard.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 5, 2008 12:40 PM

Sorry, I still haven't figured out how to embed (Duh).

Ecce, second had smoke does cause lung cancer:

in up to 1.6% of cases:

That's about 3100 people who get lung cancer contributed to second hand smoke a year in America. And about 2500 of those people die a year.

Posted by jhell | June 5, 2008 1:07 PM

That's about 3100 people who get lung cancer contributed to second hand smoke a year in America. And about 2500 of those people die a year.

3000? So that is the magic number at which private property rights and individual liberties are rendered irrelevant?

What the hell does "contributed" mean? Either it is or it isn't. How is that determined.

Oh, and sorry. I should be able to smoke in a tobacco shop, a bar that allows for smoking, or any business where the BUSINESS OWNER allows for it. 3000 people isn't a lot. I suspect that 3000 people a year die from Slinky accidents, drinking paint, etc... than second hand smoke. To listen to the smoke nazi's, you would think it was hundreds of thousands of people that die every year from second hand smoke.

You are more likely to die from cancer caused by the belching diesel engines that power the freighter in the port and locomotives.

Get a grip.

You just enjoy telling people what they can and can't do with their property and bodies. Using insignificant numbers of deaths that are at best tangentially related is no different than wacko's who want to outlaw gay marriage because it will destroy their families.

Posted by ecce homo | June 5, 2008 2:05 PM

Keep your laws off my body...

whats next, you gonna outlaw bad language?

Posted by ecce homo | June 5, 2008 2:28 PM

@24, you are obviously a car owner or you wouldn't be trying to needlessly defend your driving it and causing that nice brown haze of air. I do not own a car, do not plan to own a car until I can plug it in and it runs on nothing but electricity. Until that happens(see "Who Killed The Electric Car") I'll keep riding my bike and choking on your "harmless cadalytic converter filtered" fumes.

Posted by christianflikr | June 5, 2008 4:24 PM

Oops, I guess I meant to say attributed to second hand smoke. I almost pointed out in my post while 3100 isn't a huge number, tell that to those 3100 who got it due to other peoples habits/lifestyle. Oh, and 47,000 people died from heart disease in the US from 2nd hand smoke in 1998. When they do these epidemiologic studies there are statistical corrections for other things like obesity, genetics etc.

And this is coming from someone who worked in a lung cancer clinical research department who would take smoke breaks by the dumpster and rat traps! I'm not even making moral/ethical judgements, it's just that second hand smoke causing heart and lung disease has been definitively proven. How you deal with that knowledge is up to you.

Posted by jhell | June 5, 2008 4:43 PM


No it hasn' is nothing more than accepted and widely believed. Many of the "studies" have been been proved out to be rubbish.

But hey, why let facts get in your way. As long as everyone believes it, then it must be true.

Meanwhile, take pride is squashing other peoples rights.

Posted by ecce homo | June 5, 2008 5:11 PM

As long as ecce homo doesn't believe it then it must be false. Studies? Science? Ecce says they are all BS and that is good enough for me!

Thanks Ecce!


Posted by Johnny | June 9, 2008 8:45 AM

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