The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has a no-smoking policy that is supposed to apply to its entire system, but people routinely ignore it and the agency does little to inform riders about -- or enforce -- its own policy. Metro riders in the Washington, D.C., area endure secondhand smoke on trains and platforms, and in and near bus shelters. Smokers light up on escalators leading into and out of stations, on outdoor train platforms, and in or near bus shelters. Smokers also stand too close to entrances and exits for Metrorail stations, forcing entering and exiting riders to breathe secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke has thousands of chemicals, 69 of which are known or suspected carcinogens such as arsenic, benzene and formaldehyde. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes disease in non-smokers, including asthma, lung disease and heart disease. Even a small amount of smoke can cause harm, particularly to people with respiratory issues or compromised immune systems.
We call on WMATA to actively enforce its existing policy by: 1) Installing “No Smoking” signs at all station entrances, escalators, passageways, and outdoor train and bus platforms throughout the Metro system; 2) removing all ashtrays from the system or at least moving them farther away from entrances and exits; and 3) installing “No Smoking within 25 feet” signs at all station exits and bus shelters. WMATA should also work together with local and state jurisdictions to strengthen and enforce policies to protect Metro riders from dangerous secondhand smoke within 25 feet of Metro facilities.