Brookline’s Attempt to Prevent Smoking

designated smoking area sign

A few weeks ago, I was watching a YouTube video about Americans visiting France. One of the hints for Americans was to not be surprised by a lot of people smoking cigarettes. And further, not to complain when encountering it, because it’s a cultural difference.

I was a bit surprised and wondered just how much more the French smoke compared to Americans. According to World Population Review, 34.6% of people living in France smoke as opposed to 24.3% of people living in the United States. That is a pretty big difference.

Maybe we have more restrictions here on where people are allowed to smoke? I would think by now, that most people all over the world know the dangers of cigarette smoking. But it’s possible that the dangers have been more publicized here because of tobacco litigation.

Smoking never appealed to me. My mom used to smoke and I remember waking up to the smell of it. I hated it. I tried smoking once and didn’t like the taste of it either. My mom eventually quit smoking and I’m sure that it’s added many years to her life.

Since so many of us are on board with not smoking, getting people to never start smoking is key. It’s so much harder to quit later.

Here in Massachusetts, the town of Brookline went next level with their attempt to prevent people from smoking. The sale of tobacco is not allowed to anyone born on or after January 1, 2000. The ordinance went into effect in 2021 and was upheld by the state’s highest court. So other cities and towns in Massachusetts could soon do the same to limit the sale of tobacco. This tobacco ban is apparently the first of its kind in the country.

I’m not sure if this is the start of a trend, but I would be surprised if it remains the only locality to try this. It will be interesting to see if and how soon other places may follow.

And for those young smoking tourists from France, if you visit Brookline, you’ll have to get used to the cultural difference.

No Candlelight for Renters?

Are you enjoying all the cozy vibes this season with string lights and candlelight?

For those who own their residence, then it’s no problem. If you rent the place where you live, it might not be so easy. Burning candles is often prohibited in lease agreements.

I love the scents and soft light of candles. They are part of my daily routine when I do yoga, meditate or just want to relax. Especially this time of year when we’re losing daylight. Tomorrow is the winter solstice. Winter starts officially and we will have more hours of darkness than any other time of year. Creating our own light sources indoors is the best way to create hygge and embrace the season.

My first encounter with burning candles being prohibited was at my last apartment. Before signing the lease, I spoke with the owner of the property and negotiated an addendum allowing me to burn candles.

The next encounter I was not so lucky. It was around this time last year that I sold my mother’s house and rented her an apartment. Again, the lease did not allow burning candles. This time I was not able to negotiate anything. It might be the difference between renting an apartment in a smaller multi-family house from an individual versus an apartment in a large complex with hundreds of units and a corporate landlord.

Further, where my mom lives there had been a recent fire caused by a candle, which resulted in a lot of damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.”

Because of the dangers caused by candle burning, I can see why property owners want to prohibit the practice. According to Statista, there were more than 40 million housing units occupied by renters in this country last year. That’s a lot of people who are potentially having lifestyle restrictions.

I wonder about that fine line between a lifestyle choice and a religious and cultural practice. How often do landlords enforce this provision in a lease? When they enforce it, do they enforce it uniformly? At what point could this restriction result in religious discrimination?

Are people allowed to have birthday candles? If someone has a birthday party and they light candles and blow them out right away, that is different from someone burning several candles for a sustained period of time.

What if someone is lighting a menorah for Hanukkah? Or lighting the kinara for Kwanzaa? Not all candle burning is the same, so I wonder how do property owners decide. Maybe there is no actual enforcement, until there’s a fire and someone has to pay.

I Did a Podcast!

Podcast with Dr. Robin

Things are getting more interesting on this blog! Last week, I spoke about my blog as part of an author series. A few weeks before that, I did a podcast that you can now listen to!

The podcast is called Leadership Purpose with Dr. Robin. The host, Robin L. Owens, Ph.D., is a college professor, speaker, author and leadership purpose coach. On her weekly podcast, “she interviews experts who give helpful advice to address issues facing high achieving women leaders today.” She also shares her own stories and life lessons along the way.

It was so much fun doing the podcast and I think it sounds great! Of course I’m biased with my own episode, but I’ve enjoyed listening to all her other episodes as well. They’re inspiring! And I always learn something new and benefit from hearing different perspectives on many life issues that we all face.

On the podcast, I speak with Dr. Robin about my favorite quote, which is also my blog motto, and about my writing and legal careers. And Free Yoga Boston too!

I hope you listen to the episode and enjoy it as well! You can listen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Quote of the Week: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined US Supreme Court August 1993

Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.’ But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.    ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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I took this picture of the steps of the United States Supreme Court in August 1993. At the time, I was applying to law schools and visiting different campuses. This trip to Washington, D.C. was a personal pilgrimage of sorts. I felt that I should see the seat of government in person before becoming a lawyer. I love a good ritual and traveling too, so it was perfect for me.

Before the trip, I got a visitor’s pass to the House of Representatives and sat in while they were in session. It was a free for all and the behavior reminded me of a bunch of kindergartners. The representatives were walking all over the place, shouting and talking over each other. The gavel was repeatedly pounded and many requests were made to come to order. I remember feeling disappointed and dismayed. No wonder the country had so many problems!

It was harder to get a pass to visit the Senate, so I wasn’t able to see the behavior. The Senate is supposed to be more dignified. Maybe then. But the way things are now, I know better.

While I was there, I took a short tour of the public parts of the Supreme Court, but did not see the Court in session. I’m not sure what day in August 1993 I was there, but on August 10th, Ruth Bader Ginsburg took her seat. I never thought about it before, but I was there at a very historical time.

The United States is a better place because she served. Her death last night was such a blow. RBG held on for as long as she could. I hope that she is at peace.