(Photo by LawPrieR/Flickr)
Attention, smokers: Move to the sidewalk. Your days of lighting up in Boston's parks are probably numbered. The Boston Parks Commission will vote this month on whether to ban smoking in all of the city's parks, under penalty of a $250 fine. (And put away that e-cigarette, too. It's covered by the ban.)
The City Council passed the ban last month, sparking another debate about secondhand smoke versus smokers' rights. Today, the Globe Editorial Board sides with the smokers. Have you smoked on the Greenway, or walked through a cloud of secondhand smoke on the Common? Do you think this is matter of public health, or something etiquette can handle? We've collected some opinions below. Add yours to the comments, or tweet us @BostonComment.
Protecting the parks
One of our members is in the park every morning cleaning up trash and cigarette butts. It’s a labor of love. One of her biggest complaints is that cigarette butts are all over the park. From early spring through the fall, she picks up thousands of cigarette butts, and it’s especially bad on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’m thrilled that smoking may be banned in the parks. They make a terrible mess, the secondhand smoke isn’t healthy, and the odor is off-putting. Christopher Columbus Park is a beautiful, tranquil park at the edge of the harbor. Its design and location encourages people to sit on a bench or on the grass, look at the water, watch children play in the fountain and just relax. I’d like to see smoking banned in every park. It’s another step toward trying to encourage cleanliness and healthy living.
President, Friends of Christopher Columbus Park
A matter of manners
The reality is, I think most people make the effort to smoke without being a problem for the people around them. We’ve been living with this for decades. The nonsmoker is the person who trumps the situation. Most people I see using cigarettes do it appropriately - except for tossing them. I’m not sure, if I was a nonsmoker, I’d go say something to a smoker. You’ve got to be careful who you’re going to criticize and how you’re going to criticize him. Are the blood pressure levels that you’re going to achieve worth it? There really are times when it’s better just to fold ’em.
Peter Post, @EmilyPostInst
E-Word blogger, Boston.com
Always a nuisance
Not the government's job
Anyone who is sensitive to secondhand smoke can easily avoid it outdoors. Moving to another park bench or stretch of beach to get away from a cigarette may be annoying, but it isn’t the purpose of law -- or City Council’s job -- to protect us from every conceivable annoyance. If the councilors were proposing to ban noisy children or trashy dress from public parks, who would take them seriously? But come up with another way to crack down on smoking, and virtually no restriction is beyond the pale. Why?
Jeff Jacoby, @jeff_jacoby
Boston Globe columnist
A waste of time and energy
@steveannear there is no way to enforce this new law efficiently.— Jonmicol (@Jonmicol) November 27, 2013
Things we can't police
I'm a smoker. I hope to quit someday, but now I smoke – in the Common, on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, in the Public Garden, in Ringer Park. When I smoke, I also adhere to general societal norms such as: depositing my butt in a trash receptacle, holding the smoke in a second longer to let a baby stroller roll by, not lighting up near a group of kids, not blowing smoke at people doing tai chi. If you're on the other side of the park, on a bench across the way, or even walking by me, the smell of my smoke may be annoying. But that's part of the danger you face when you leave the house. The same way I cannot police loud music, screaming children, barking dogs, or the smell of grape-flavored candy (equally offensive), you cannot police my cigarettes. Find a real problem to solve.
Alex Pearlman, @lexikon1
Boston.com product manager/Boston.Comment producer
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