Smokefree DC is a citizen-based group whose goal is to promote smokefree environments in Washington, DC.

Jack Evans’ arrogance knows no bounds

He’s at it again.

D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2) has introduced a bill to carve out a permanent exemption to the very popular smokefree workplaces law, which made all indoor workplaces smokefree.

You recall that Evans tried this last year. He was successful in pushing through “emergency” legislation to do a favor his friends in the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, allowing them to have cigars at their annual St. Patrick’s Day shindig. The measure also permitted smoking at an annual fall Fight Night fundraising event. He failed at his attempt to make the exemption permanent.

Now, Evans has once again introduced a bill to make the exemption permanent. It has been referred to the Health Committee. We are  shaking our heads in disbelief.

What’s wrong with it? A lot of things. First, it’s incredibly arrogant and smacks of cronyism. Jack Evans is saying that he and his friends are above the law. (I’m not sure if he still is a member of the club, but he has been in the past.) Second, it sends a message that he doesn’t take seriously the laws the Council passes.

Third, it’s terrible for the people who are working the event. Why should they have to breathe cigar and cigarette smoke, even if it’s just one night? They shouldn’t. The law was passed because secondhand smoke is carcinogenic. There is no safe level of exposure to it.

Fourth (I told you there were a lot of reasons), it would set a terrible precedent. What other health and safety law do we give people a day off from?

Finally, the timing is, well, it’s hard to put into words. But Bob Summersgill did, very eloquently. He’s an ANC commissioner and a member of Smokefree DC’s board. In a blog post, he detailed why Evans’ bill is  an insult to the memory of Jeff Coudreit, who worked for Evans and who died recently at age 48 of smoking-related lung cancer.

Today I learned that Jack Evans introduced a a bill, just days before Jeff died, to weaken our indoor smokefree workplace law. … David Catania spoke about Jeff and lamented his passing of a smoking related illness so young. David noted that the indoor smokefree workplace law, smoking cessation programs, and higher taxes on cigarettes has significantly reduced smoking in D.C. David suggested that some legislation related to reducing smoking or smoking related illness be named for Jeff. Jack, this is no way to honor Jeff. This is an insult to Jeff. Withdraw the bill now, and never do this again.

We still wouldn’t put it past Evans to try to introduce “emergency” legislation again, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Yeah, that’s an emergency all right. We’ll be watching for that. Hopefully the Council will see it for what it is — a self-indulgent, unethical and utterly arrogant move. Jack Evans should be ashamed of himself.

Here’s the text of the bill:

A BILL

IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

To amend the Department of Health Functions Clarification Act of 2001 to permit a once annual special event exemption for licensed hotels.

BE IT AN ACT BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, that this act may be cited as the “Special Event Exemption Act of 2011.”

Sec. 2. Section 4917 of the Department of Health Functions Clarification Act of 2001, effective October 3, 2001 (D.C. Law 14-28;D.C. Official Code $ 7-743 et seq.), is amended as follows:

(a) Designate the existing text as subsection (a).

(b) Add a new subsection (b) to read as follows:

“(b) A hotel licensed under $ 25-113 shall be exempt from the provisions of this subchapter once a year for one day for the purposes of hosting a special event which permits cigar smoking; provided, that

“(1) The hotel notifies the Department of Health in writing in advance of the event; and

“(2) pays a fee of $2,500 to be remitted to the Regulatory Enforcement Fund as established under $ 4903.”.

Sec. 3. Fiscal impact statement.

The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602(cX3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24,1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code $ 1-206.02(cX3))’

Sec. 4. Effective date.

This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the

Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24,1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

1 comment to Jack Evans’ arrogance knows no bounds

  • Message to Jack Evans:

    I just read about your second-annual cigar bill, and Irish upper crust notwithstanding, a ban on cigar-smoking in enclosed public-access spaces at all times is a superior idea.

    Are you going to refund the money to other parties in the hotel who thought they were in a smoke-free zone? Or those who try to use the venue on subsequent days while the stench lingers?

    Give a wink back to the “Irish upper crust” acknowledging your favorite son status, and say no more about this lousy, stinky idea.

    Lisa Swanson
    A DC airbreather

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