Need a smoke? Better stay home

Published 8:30 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2019

If you want to light up in the city of Brookhaven, you might want to stay home.

The city is tightening its ordinances on smoking and vaping, and leaving smokers few places where they can enjoy a cigarette, cigar or vape device.

Several big changes to the previous ordinance include no smoking in hotel and motel rooms and a limit on how close to the entrance of a public building smoking is allowed. It also takes away a business’s right to opt out of the ordinance.

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That means you can’t vape in a vape shop or smoke in a tobacco store.

Included in the 18 pages of the ordinance are rules against smoking in just about all enclosed public spaces, such as bars, common areas in apartment buildings or restaurants. It also includes any sports arenas or indoor enclosed spaces in outdoor facilities. Smoking is not allowed in outdoor recreational areas, including parking lots.

Smokers must be at least 20 feet away from the entrances, operable windows and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited, to prevent tobacco smoke from entering those areas. Smoking is also prohibited on all outdoor property that is adjacent to buildings owned, leased or operated by the city and is under the control of the city.

The only place smoking is not regulated is inside private residences and vehicles.

The science is settled on how bad smoking is for the health of smokers — and those nearby — so the city’s desire to limit smoking in public places is understandable and appreciated.

But the city may be stretching the limits when it comes to legislating health. If we are reading the ordinance correctly, it would be illegal to smoke in your back yard if your property is near a building used by the city. That seems a bit extreme and difficult to enforce.