Mon, Jun

Transit Riders Are Exposed to Vaping and Other Second-hand Drug Smoke on Metro Trains


LA TRANSPO - The health hazards of secondhand smoke are well documented. * 

Smoking drugs on Metro trains has reached levels of use so great that it is scaring away transit riders. Deaths from drug overdose has increased dramatically since January 2023, Los Angeles Times.

The other evening, I rode the Red Line starting at Union Station. When I entered the train car, I immediately smelled smoke, a young man was smoking out of a vape container. He seemed unconcerned about his smoking. I smelled marijuana elsewhere on the train.

The subway doors closed and sealed the train car, and we nondrug using transit riders were held hostage and harassed by drug users and their secondhand smoke.

With the evidence that secondhand smoke is a health hazard we transit riders had to endure this smoke. We could not hold our breath between stations. The drug users did not care about their secondhand smoke, they only cared about their drug use.

With this secondhand smoke in the train car, and fentanyl overdose deaths from smoking it, there was no way to know if I was inhaling fentanyl. Even if it wasn’t fentanyl that secondhand smoke filling the train car (mixed the marijuana smoke I know) could have been meth or crack cocaine, both of which are health hazards.

If someone wants to use drugs and step onto that downward spiral, that is their choice, but they do not have the right to expose transit riders to the verified health hazards from the secondhand smoke of their drug use. 

The drug users are using Metro trains as their rolling safe place drug den. How long can this continue before everyone except drug users, and the homeless, are the only ones riding Metro trains and using the train stations? And the homeless who are not using drugs are also confronted with the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Again, we transit riders who just want to ride trains and buses to reduce our carbon footprints to fight global warming; or are the working poor and just poor and cannot afford a car; or do not want to drive are having our rides harassed and our health threatened by this out-of-control drug use on Metro.

Los Angeles County Fire Department, along with California, has laws prohibiting smoking in enclosed spaces.  Los Angeles County Metro is breaking its own county laws by allowing smoking at its stations and on its trains. 

Metro is placing it riders in a situation of harassment and health hazards from drug use and secondhand smoke on its trains and stations.  

* From the CDC website:  

Health Problems Caused by Secondhand Smoke 

  • There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS); even brief exposure can cause immediate harm.1,2,3
  • Health problems caused by secondhand smoke in adults who do not smoke include coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, as well as adverse reproductive health effects in women, including low birth weight.1,3
  • Secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children.1There are health hazards to secondhand vaping.  

These studies are for tobacco smoke. But what of smoke from someone smoking marijuana? The CDC website offers this:  

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke 

The known risks of secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke—including risks to the heart and lungs1—raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke causes similar health risks. Secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke and contains some of those chemicals in higher amounts.

The legalization of marijuana in California has underperformed so poorly that the illegal growing and selling of weed continues. This creates terrible environmental consequences because of the use of pesticides and herbicides in growing the plants which make their way into the environment. These chemicals also make their way onto marijuana leaves which are then smoked. The secondhand marijuana smoke carries these poisonous chemicals which affects those nearby.

Smoking drugs include marijuana, crack cocaine, meth, and more recently fentanyl.

Fentanyl is extremely potent. From the DEA website:

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as an analgesic (pain relief) and anesthetic. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.

,,,the number of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, excluding methadone increased dramatically each year, to more than 68,000 in 2021.

(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native, a composer whose works have been performed nationally, and some can be found here.  He is the past President of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony. His dedication to transit issues is to help improve the transit riding experience for all, and to convince drivers to ride buses and trains to fight air pollution and global warming. He is an instructor at Emeritus/Santa Monica College and a regular contributor to CityWatchLA.)


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