Smoked out

As if health problems were not enough, Portland smokers now face a new risk: a $94 fine for smoking in a bus shelter.


Three weeks after TriMet banned smoking in enclosed shelters and on many MAX platforms, student reaction has ranged from relief to disgust.


TriMet said the ban is a reaction to “numerous requests and complaints over the years regarding people smoking inside shelters and at MAX stations.”


Around 40 percent of PSU students take public transportation to campus. Some say they would rather risk the fine than forego a cigarette out of the rain.


“I will not obey that law,” said Missy Scott, a sophomore smoker. “I’ll pay the fine, but I’ll be pissed.”


“I might stop taking the bus,” Scott added. “A parking permit costs about the same as a TriMet permit.”


“I don’t smoke and I think it sucks,” junior Sonia Schmanski said. “I know it is public property and the city – may be able to do what they want. I think there are enough regulations already.”

Schmanski speculates that ridership could be affected if enough people get fined


Since the ban is for TriMet’s approximately 1,100 bus shelters and many of the MAX stations, many see the ban as next to unenforceable.


“It’s a little ridiculous,” freshman Patrick Beisell, a social smoker, said. “I can’t justify it either way. I don’t think it will do much for anyone.”


But many smokers and non-smokers alike thought the new ban was reasonable.

“If I’m standing in a shelter, I can understand that,” said freshman smoker Jana Hughes. “Encouragement against smoking is better than a fine.”


“I see both sides of the issue,” non-smoker Wendy Huft said, “but I don’t want secondhand smoke.”


Smoker Nadia Khater, a junior, sees the ban as a matter of simple courtesy.


“I don’t smoke in those areas,” Khater said. “I always don’t smoke in closed spaces or buildings. I have kids so I have to regulate myself – Anyone who has respect for people outside themselves will [obey the ban].”


“People are going to be determined to smoke,” Huft said. “They’re going to take their chances with the fine.”


TriMet officials and police can also give smokers warnings or exclude them from the area.


 ”Many transit riders – especially babies, children, seniors and people with health issues – are vulnerable to secondhand smoke,” the TriMet web site said. “If you smoke, please be considerate of your fellow riders by moving away from the shelter or station.”


TriMet said the ban would promote a smoke-free workplace for drivers.


Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act already bans smoking at most indoor workplaces. TriMet banned smoking in buses in 1978.


More attempts to restrict smoking were proposed to the Oregon Legislature this year. A House bill proposed raising fines to employers who violate the Indoor Clean Air act from $50 to $500 per day. Senate bills sought to ban smoking within 100 feet of doorways. Most dramatically, a Senate bill sought to extend the indoor smoking ban to restaurants and bars. All three bills died in committee.