Students looking for a smoke break outside may soon have to take their cigarettes elsewhere if a recent D.C. Council proposal to ban smoking cigarettes on sidewalks outside of storefronts passes. Another proposal to ban single-sale cigars, commonly used for smoking marijuana, is also pending.
The proposals would require stores to post warning signs about smoking, and allow property owners to post no smoking signs for up to 25 feet away.
The smoking ban, proposed by D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Yvette Alexander, and the single-sale cigar ban, sponsored by Alexander, were debated last week before the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. A part of the legislation, the “Blunt Wrap Prohibition,” would make it unlawful for “blunt wraps,” rolling materials intended to encase substances like marijuana, to be sold, and demands they be classified as drug paraphanelia.
Freshman Steven Landis expressed support for the bill, saying smoking was unhealthy and unwelcome on campus. “I think the ban should happen,” Landis said. “Smoking kills people and there are little kids outside of stores who don’t need to breathe in tobacco.”
The proposal is one of many attempts to curb public cigarette smoking in the District. Last spring, a group of graduate students attempted to ban smoking on all University-owned property, and said they had collected more than 500 signatures in support of the ban. John Banzhaf, a GW Law School professor, threatened to sue the University in 2006 over public smoking and successfully lobbied GW to change official policy to discourage smoking in front of some buildings. The single-sale cigar bill has been pending since February.
In addition to the blunt wrap section of the smoking ban bill, the single-sale cigar bill would make it illegal to buy individual cigars, except from one of the District’s five tobacco stores.
The Washington Post reported that the bill garnered support from the parent company of the producers of Black and Milds, a type of cigar that comes in packs and would not be affected by the ban.
GW students expressed mixed reactions to the proposals. Freshman Donna Farizan said she does not smoke but disagrees with the bill.
“I don’t think the D.C. City Council has a right to ban people from smoking where they want to in public areas,” Farizan said.
Sophomore Sergio Pasquariello, a smoker, said the bill wouldn’t affect his habits. “It doesn’t matter to me,” Pasquariello said. “I would just smoke elsewhere.”