“To me, ‘going too far’ in [secondhand smoke] policy means efforts premised on reducing harm to others, which ban smoking in outdoor settings such as ships’ decks, parks, golf courses, beaches, outdoor parking lots, hospital gardens, and streets.
“[W]hile tobacco smoke has its own range of recognisable smells, there are few differences between the physics and chemistry of tobacco smoke and smoke generated by the incomplete combustion of any biomass, whether it be eucalyptus leaves, campfire logs, gasoline, or meat on a barbeque. Secondhand smoke is not so uniquely noxious that it justifies extraordinary controls of such stringency that zero tolerance outdoors is the only acceptable policy.”
— Going Too Far? Exploring the Limits of Smoking Regulation, William Mitchell Law Review, October 23, 2007 (also here) -(comment source 1, 2)
“Someone smoking next to me while I eat lunch outdoors is not going to really harm me, but the imposition is unpleasant in the same way as loud music away from music venues or dog faeces underfoot.”
Last year, my university debated the introduction of a ban on smoking on all areas of its campuses, after the senate alumni representative and Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons led the charge. To the surprise of some, I spoke against banning it entirely. I supported bans near buildings, because of significant smoke drift into offices, and in outdoor eating areas, because of the sardine-like proximities and the easy option for smokers to move away.
But I wanted nothing of banning it on the big campus boulevards or lawn areas. I know of no evidence that the fleeting encounters you can get from walking past a smoker in a wide-open space can cause any disease. The campus is now smoke-free, save for four outdoor smoking zones.