Duke University Medical Center, built by tobacco money, has banned smoking entirely anywhere on its property, which extends right up to the sidewalk on Erwin Rd. But since the sidewalk and bus shelter outside of Duke's main hospital entrance are Durham property and public Right of Way, they're available for people to smoke in. Most of the consequences of this ban are unsurprising, from walkers on Erwin having to run the gauntlet of smokers leaning on the fence to the already enormous build-up of butts in the road. But yesterday morning I saw, from the TTA bus, a patient in his hospital gown chain-smoking on the bus stop bench. He was bumming cigarettes from the med center employees who were also smoking, and he had his IV and another bag of fluid and a monitor there on a wheeled pole with him. There was also a nursing aide standing about 10 feet away from him, looking distinctly uncomfortable. She was clearly not happy about her charge sitting out on the bus shelter bench in his gown. Most of the people on the bus were watching this patient, and trying not to at the same time. It was a very startling sight, and I doubt very much that it was what the hospital had in mind when it decided to ban smoking entirely.
On a slightly different note, now that Duke does not have to pay its employees to clean up the butts from in front of the hospital, will they give some of the money they've saved to Durham so it can clean up its bus shelters and bits of Erwin Rd. (and probably Roxboro and Carver, too) from the messes the smokers leave?