Time to put a light on the 10-foot smoking rule

Among my circle of basketball-loving family and friends I am known for my relentless rant in which I call for a major change in the game’s 10-foot rule: As players 18 years and older are so much taller and more talented than their 1891 equivalents, I think the basket should be raised to 11 feet: no more 10-foot rule.

But this column is about another 10-foot rule that needs looking at: the legal smoking perimeter outside of doorways.

Ten feet is not enough; at least not at every doorway.

And in many cases I don’t believe smokers, and establishment owners, are doing enough about it.

I believe these businesses know who they are; the doorway is one thing, but how people actually get to the doorway is another — and it is the actual pathway to the building entrance that needs to determine how far away smoking should take place.

Oregon’s Smokefree Workplace Law, passed in 2007, states that employers must “prohibit smoking in the workplace and within 10 feet of all entrances, exits, accessibility ramps that led to and from an entrance, windows and air-intake vents.” (Italics are mine.)

It does no good to require someone to stand 10 feet from a doorway but on the ramp or stairs that leads to that doorway, making people walk through a gauntlet of smoke.

I include my own workplace as an example of places with accessibility ramps that at times become inappropriate nicotine smoke pathways.

Even the church I attend has this issue: At both entries, the sign tells smokers to stay back 10 feet, but there is no other access other than through that point 10 feet away.

Secondhand smoke, besides being deadly, is persistent.

Violation of the 10-foot law, as it pertains to ramps and entrances, is not exactly a rampant situation, but prevalent enough that I think anyone with clientele that goes outside for a smoke needs to take a walk on the block and figure out where it is those folks should be realistically expected to go and light up. Every situation is different, but no situation is immune, either.

I believe that 10 feet up the sidewalk from a doorway is not enough, if anyone needs to walk past that smoker on a 6-8-foot sidewalk. And how many of us have experienced smokers standing 10 feet down the sidewalk on both sides of the entrance?

The 10-foot rule in basketball was more or less arbitrary: Dr. James Naismith nailed the peach basket high enough on the gym wall to increase the amount of exercise his players received.

The 10-foot smoke rule also seems arbitrary. Oregon should follow other states and give smokers more exercise by expanding the distance to 20 feet. And if employers or business owners need to ask clientele to please stand farther away, they should consider the longer-term benefits of carving out a healthier approach to their door.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners