Smoking occasionally causes cancer in those who choose to do it and metastatic sanctimony in those who choose not to. To prevent both of these tragic social diseases, governments have jacked up the price of a pack and made it all but impossible to smoke indoors. Now, they're going after outdoor spaces, too, and soon the only place you'll be allowed to smoke will be in the privacy of your tar-stained soul, or if you're circa 1986 hot-as-fuck James Spader.
According to a surprisingly sympathetic take from TIME, smoking bans in outdoor spaces like parks and sidewalks have made some cancer stick aficionados hopping mad (not literally hopping; everyone knows smokers can only hop for a few seconds before they start coughing). Their reasoning? While indoor smoking bans can be justified because research has shown that secondhand smoke in enclosed spaces is harmful, similar evidence doesn't exist for outdoor smoking.
Whether it is a long-term health issue for a lot of people “is still up in the air,” said Neil Klepeis, a Stanford University researcher whose work is cited by advocates of outdoor bans.
Ronald Bayer, a Columbia University professor, put it in even starker terms.
“The evidence of a risk to people in open-air settings is flimsy,” he said.
Despite a lack of evidence, cities like DC and 90 other municipalities are considering outdoor smoking bans for places like sidewalk cafes, parks, and beaches.
As the TIME piece points out, the goal of outdoor smoking bans is to frame cigarettes as a dirty, socially unacceptable habit, a way to shame people out of cigarettes. But shame hasn't really worked as an effective mechanism for addressing other public health concerns like childhood obesity or The Real Housewives. This is a post-shame era. No one's going to stop doing something because it elicits stinkfaces.
Especially not a teen movie villain.