Asheville or ashtray?

Asheville is a wonderful city.

It’s no wonder so many tourists are lured to this beautiful environment. The Blue Ridge Mountains provide us with a plethora of hiking trails, waterfalls and stunning views. We’re surrounded by nature’s gifts.

But the exquisite scenery isn’t the only reason Asheville is unique. We have a vibrant music scene, a surplus of high quality restaurants, breweries, art galleries, festivals, shops, street performers and so much more. Asheville is a dynamic small town loved by many.

With so many wonderful aspects, as well as interesting people who reside here, it can be challenging to find anything to complain about. There is one sad drawback that continues to annoy, frustrate and disappoint me: cigarette smoking in public spaces.

It’s almost impossible to walk downtown without being exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke at every block. It’s so widespread that sometimes it appears as if we’re living in a time before smoking was known to be a health hazard. With over 69 animal and/or human carcinogens ( in tobacco smoke, you’d think people would be deterred from lighting up. This isn’t the case.

If someone wants to put toxic chemicals in their body, that’s their personal prerogative. But contaminating open spaces for nonsmokers is insensitive, rude, unhealthy and unacceptable. Second-hand smoke is really hard on nonsmokers. For some of us the fumes can cause extreme headaches that can linger for hours. The smell stays in our hair and on our clothes.

Asheville takes a progressive stance on so many issues, but when it comes to cigarette smoking the city is asleep. It is time for smokers to show some respect.

I also think smokers should be held responsible for discarding their cigarette butts.  Where do smokers think their cigarette butts end up?  Either business owners or workers end up sweeping them up, or the butts get washed into the French Broad River. Did you know one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water killed half of the fish exposed in a scientific study (

It would be great if City Council would pass and enforce an ordinance for no smoking in public spaces or at least an ordinance for no smoking within 50 feet of doorways or windows. I’m also asking business owners to ask patrons not to smoke within 50 feet of doorways or windows. We all love Asheville. Let’s all come together to keep this city clean and healthy.

Michael Hernandez


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6 thoughts on “Asheville or ashtray?

  1. John

    I am sick of breathing cigarette smoke from people crowded outside of buildings. It is immensely rude.

    You would think with all the cigarette warnings no one would still be smoking. Some people are just plain inconsiderate and ignorant.

    • You would think people would know that many people are inconsiderate and ignorant. Letters to obscure newspapers don’t impact that.

    • Craig Randolph

      Yes, John, I agree..some people are just plain inconsiderate and rude. I smoke, but I do listen and do my best to keep non-smokers out of my ‘cigarette cloud’ , even going so far as to not smoking in my OWN home when I’ve got friends over that I know cigarette smoke irritates them. I’ll even agree with the 50 ft. rule around the entrance and exit doors of businesses, for I have no right to make others breathe in this 2nd hand, toxic smoke. But, one thing, laws enacted in several places across the country that have went so far as to force the owners of private businesses such as bars, ect…to ban smoking in their own establishments is wrong. It’s you’re business, you do all the sweating and sacrificing, putting everything you’ve got into making it a success–shouldn’t it be the business owners decision whether to allow smoking or not?

      • The rights of business owners don’t trump public health. For example, the California smoking ban is aimed at protecting workers, not customers. In a culture that allows/encourages smoking in bars and restaurants, those who make their living in that industry are subjected to an insane amount of 2nd hand smoke. Way more than you are subjected to walking the streets. Their rights come before the right of a business owner, just as they would in the case of any other way the business was making the workers unsafe.

      • thatguy

        In California you can have a smoking establishment if only the owners of the business work in it. Otherwise you are subjecting your employees to cigarette smoke. This is just the way things are going and these laws are inevitable. Tobacco is poisonous.

        [to Mountain Xpress: why is my text box telling me “You’re the cat’s pyjamas”? One, you’ve misspelled “pajamas”; two, really not necessary; three, have you heard of spell check?? This text box has it!]

  2. Althea

    Please explain how to walk 50′ away from a downtown business’ doorway or window without finding yourself in front of another doorway or window…unless you wind up in a park (where smoking is already prohibited).

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