Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pendleton to Consider Ban on Sitting or Standing While Smoking in Certain Outdoor Areas

According to an article on the WSPA web site, the town of Pendleton (South Carolina) is considering an ordinance which would make it illegal to stand or sit while smoking in certain outdoor areas: those within 10 feet of a restaurant or public event.

According to the article: "If some town leaders in Pendleton have their way, sitting outside and smoking in certain areas will be against the law. Pendleton Mayor Randy Hayes says, “This is about public health, no matter how you look at it.” The town is also considering an indoor smoking ban to include bars and restaurants. But Hayes says the major sticking point is what to include outdoors. Hayes says, “We're not trying to tell anyone you can't smoke in the town of Pendleton. We're trying to be very selective on where these things can take place.” Under the town's proposed ordinance, if you're within ten feet of a restaurant or ten feet of a public event at a stadium, ampitheater or ball park, you have to keep walking and smoking, and you cannot not stop, stand, sit or linger."

The Rest of the Story

This proposal raises a number of serious questions.

First, what if a smoker is walking back and forth (pacing), in and out of the 10 foot buffer zone? Does that satisfy the ordinance's requirements? After all, the smoker would be walking at all times. Does it matter if you keep walking within the 10-foot buffer zone versus walking in and out of the zone?

Second, what precisely defines "lingering." What if the smoker is waiting for a ride, and the ride doesn't show up? Is that lingering? Is it lingering if the smoker honestly believes that the person is going to show up? How long can you stay in the vicinity of the public event before it is considered lingering?

Third, what if you stop momentarily, but not permanently? How long can you stop before you are breaking the law? Is a five-second break allowable? What if you are tired and need to catch your breath?

Fourth, how fast do you have to be going to be deemed walking? What if you are moving really slowly, taking one step every 10-15 seconds. Is that walking or standing still? Perhaps you are a really slow walker. At what rate of speed must you be going in order to be considered as a walker rather than as a lingerer?

Fifth, are you allowed to sit at a distance of 11 feet from the public event and blow smoke into the 10-feet buffer zone? Does it matter what direction the wind is blowing? What if you are sitting 9 feet away from the public event but the wind is blowing away from the buffer zone? Does that matter?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many more intriguing questions remain.

What about hopping? You're neither sitting nor standing, so is that allowed? What if you are on a pogo stick?

Can you leave the area and come back? Is that considered lingering, wandering, or meandering under the law? Is loitering acceptable? Is loitering the same as lingering, or is it defined differently? How is dilly dallying handled under the ordinance? Is it halfway between lingering and loitering, or is it more towards one or the other? And most importantly, what about traipsing? Is smoking while traipsing an offense or not?

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