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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.

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