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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Banning Smoking In Parks

Posted by on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 8:35 AM

The idea has been floated in Seattle—and isn't going anywhere—and now it's being floated in New York. I basically agree with Dom and outraged Slog commenters: banning smoking in all public parks is unworkable and stupid, and ridiculous nicotine addicts should be allowed to "enjoy" their stupid, ridiculous nicotine addiction in their own homes and outside. But perhaps we could make an exception for parks so tiny that they're practically enclosed spaces, parks like...


...Madison Park. The smoke wafting around Madison Park on a nice day makes the park—always packed—pretty much uninhabitable for non-smokers and unsuitable for children. Sitting in Madison Park on a sunny day is like sitting in Linda's in 1997. You leave the park—you leave the beach—with your clothes stinking of smoke. So while I agree that banning smoking in all public parks would be draconian and unenforceable—I'm with Dom and Philip—I don't think banning smoking in a few tiny and crowded public parks would be. Or as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg put it...

“It may not be logistically possible to enforce a ban across thousands of acres, but there may be areas within parks where restricting smoking can protect health.”

Madison Park—the patch of it along the water—would be one of those areas.


Comments (47) RSS

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givesgoodemail 1
What works much better is to ban smoking in public places EXCEPT for designated areas, and then you choose where to place those areas.
However, the libertarian in me (that weird little guy in one of my mind's backrooms--the one with the bigass padlock) says that people ought to be able to smoke where they like, and I just won't hang around wherever they do.
Posted by givesgoodemail on September 15, 2009 at 8:43 AM · Report this
Baconcat 2
I'm pretty sure smoke can travel through invisible walls.
Posted by Baconcat on September 15, 2009 at 8:46 AM · Report this
Zoroastronomer 3
I'm sure all of those responsible smokers won't throw their butts into the water or snuff them out and leave them in the dirt, either. They are all so helpful when it comes to keeping their areas clean.
Posted by Zoroastronomer on September 15, 2009 at 8:50 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 4
Good luck enforcing this one.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on September 15, 2009 at 8:50 AM · Report this
pointy 5
They should just go back to doing snuff, just like the good ol' days of the 18th century. Everyone wins, except your nasal passages!
Posted by pointy on September 15, 2009 at 8:54 AM · Report this
Hernandez 6
I just think it's rude to smoke around kids, and in general it's rude to smoke in the middle of a bunch of people who aren't smoking. And I say this as a smoker (well, mostly just a smoke-when-I-drinker, but still). Especially at a place like Madison, where you could walk 30 feet up and smoke in an area where you're not completely surrounded by non-smokers.
Posted by Hernandez on September 15, 2009 at 8:56 AM · Report this
gttim 7
Ban it outright! If the park is big enough so that you can smoke without bothering others and get away with it, go ahead. Otherwise, no smoking. The second you bother others with smoke is the second you step on their right to enjoy clean air. If you want to smoke, go ahead. Just do not bother, and endanger, others.
Posted by gttim on September 15, 2009 at 9:01 AM · Report this
that is abosolutely stupid. banning smoking in parks?? why? too much control if you ask me.
you americans are sold whatever shit your goverment wants to sell to keep you happy...... or worried, or feeling like fighting for something.
Posted by girlinspain on September 15, 2009 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Unworkable? It works just fine in LA, SF, and plenty of other cities. Maybe not 100% compliance, but it still cuts down on the number of cigarette butts littering the parks.
Posted by RDM on September 15, 2009 at 9:05 AM · Report this
I think smoking should be allowed only where nudity is. If you can't legally be nude somewhere you shouldn't be able to smoke their either.
Posted by MikeB on September 15, 2009 at 9:07 AM · Report this
Eric F 11
I've never found Madison that smoky--then again, we use the unfashionable south end of the beach.
Posted by Eric F on September 15, 2009 at 9:08 AM · Report this
10---fascinating. I don't agree, but it is a superlatively novel concept. What about your car?
Posted by on September 15, 2009 at 9:11 AM · Report this
The littering issue is one thing, but seriously, with all the toxins already saturating our air and water I can't really imagine banning cigarettes in public parks would have that much of a beneficial effect on anyone's health.
Posted by COMTE on September 15, 2009 at 9:12 AM · Report this
First the asshat powers that be took away my right to have a smoke with my beer. Now you propose to take away my right to have a smoke with my fecal coliform?
Posted by Reg on September 15, 2009 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Why is it so hard for smokers to understand butts = litter? Tossing your butt on the ground is exactly the same as tossing a soda can or a plastic bag, yes, even the unfiltered cigarettes (they decompose, so then it's just like tossing an apple core).

Carry a portable ashtray. Zippo makes a fine one. If not that, then you can put your butts in a ziploc bag or just back in the pack/case.

I really think a lot of the animosity towards smokers in public places is all the trash they produce. Little saliva, tar and nicotine stained, foam turds that no one wants to pick up. Ugh.

I smoke and I'd like to be able to continue to do so on sidewalks and in parks, so lets all do this together. Butts are litter. Don't be a baby and clean up after yourself.
Posted by Lilting Missive on September 15, 2009 at 9:18 AM · Report this
Original Monique 16
The small amount of smoke you would be exposed to at a park is most likely far less than the car exhaust you breathe everyday walking around Seattle. (Golob, care to weigh in?)

Come on.

Look, sometimes your clothes are going to smell. Sometimes you have to put up with stuff you don't like. It is outside, so be a big boy and deal with it. People smoking around you? MOVE. Or ask them politely if they could smoke near the road, you can even say you are allergic.

Most people, if spoken to nicely, will gladly move for you. I say that as an ex-smoker.

"Hey guys, I don't want to be a pest, but I am allergic to smoke. So is there anyway you can smoke at the road? If not, I understand."
Posted by Original Monique on September 15, 2009 at 9:19 AM · Report this
Loveschild 17
I agree, especially those that are highly frequented by families with children. Most urban parks fall under that category. As such the same regulations that are observed in the city to which they provide areas of public recreation should also be observed in them. The population should not have to be subjected to avoiding small parks or other areas of public recreational activity that we have funded because some are inconsiderate and have deemed it their right to pollute the air and risk your health while you decide to take a walk or sit on a park bench.
Posted by Loveschild on September 15, 2009 at 9:20 AM · Report this
The Max 18
I am a big believer in proper regulation. That means that if you're going to instill a ban, fine. Then you pay for the professional law enforcement to enforce it gently, consistently, firmly, and equitably. If you won't or can't do that, then the ban is unjust.

Smokers who inflict their smoke on the smokeless majority are fucktards (my personal evolution of the whole retarded thing) who deserve fining and public ridicule.

BUT, anti-smoke fascists who want smokers to be treated like pariahs are even worse.

You want smoke free beaches, great. Map out a nice little 10-30% of the total area smoking area and carpet the fucker with ashtrays. Pay cops to maintain a presence to gently direct smokers towards smoking areas.
Posted by The Max on September 15, 2009 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Vince 19
People that smoke shouldn't be allowed to move into an apartment building that does not have fire sprinklers. If you really want to get serious.
Posted by Vince on September 15, 2009 at 9:30 AM · Report this
@6: Thanks (and to others on this thread). It's always good to hear from considerate smokers. This coming from a non-smoker that wants free air for herself but still wants to let you smoke as freely as possible.
Posted by Gloria on September 15, 2009 at 9:51 AM · Report this
This is the magical place where Dan's philosophy and Loveschild's can meet in happy harmony.
Posted by gloomy gus on September 15, 2009 at 9:58 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 22
I love America.

First, spend countless years and countless dollars trying to get everyone addicted to something, then turn around and spend double the time and money trying to get people to quit.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 15, 2009 at 9:58 AM · Report this
Oh good lord Savage, seriously? Your cloths reak of smoke after going to the beach? Where are you sitting, an ashtray?

In confined spaces smoke lingers and saturates clothing. In open air, you smell it for a brief moment, and then it dissipates... All that's left behind is your neuroses.

And remember: the only people to have gotten lung cancer from second hand smoke were bar staff working in thick smoke for decades. A few seconds at the beach won't kill you.

(FYI- I don't smoke, but I happen to sympathize with the people who haven't freed themselves from the habit yet.)
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on September 15, 2009 at 10:03 AM · Report this
I'm 85 Years Old 24
Maybe if you stopped wearing cardigans and trousers to the beach you wouldn't have clothes that are filled with the smell of smoke. Personally, I hate everyone drinking soda at the beach.
Posted by I'm 85 Years Old on September 15, 2009 at 10:10 AM · Report this
can we also ban screaming children from parks? Their noise pollution drives me crazy and stays in my head for hours after I leave the beach.
Posted by Little Red Ryan Hood on September 15, 2009 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 26
Geez, Dan, it's funny that you don't seem to mind when your clothes reek of marijuana smoke.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on September 15, 2009 at 10:20 AM · Report this
LaRiiiiM0RrrHAwtiiii696969 27

Posted by LaRiiiiM0RrrHAwtiiii696969 on September 15, 2009 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 28
Until we can get the existing smoking ban working properly, extending it is just foolish.

Those folks who think that smokers will just happily put out a cig or move when asked are in a dream world. Ask the half dozen teenagers at the bus stop to quit smoking in the shelter on a rainy day and see how kind they are. That's the smoker most of us have to deal with - mindless addicts feeding the jones, not mature adults just looking for "mellow flavor". Addicts don't care about you, in any way.

Now ask the bar & restaurant owners, and their creditors, who put thousands of dollars into patios, decks and HVAC systems to deal with smoking patrons. Their investment was immediately devalued to the point of almost total loss with the smoking ban. The result was more people stiffing bar tabs and sidewalks littered with smokers and their trash.

This should have been an easily foreseen result of the ban, yet we plodded ahead anyhow. Let's correct this mistake before we compound it with further bans that will have other certain negative consequences.
Posted by Sir Vic on September 15, 2009 at 10:44 AM · Report this
very bad homo 29
Oh, just ban smoking in all public places. If people want to smoke, they can do it in their own homes or in back alleys somewhere. Why should the non-smokers always be the ones suffering?
Posted by very bad homo on September 15, 2009 at 10:45 AM · Report this
Fuck smokers. That's right, FUCK SMOKERS! I'm tired of breathing it, tired of dealing with their cigarette butts all over the ground whether at the park, on the beach or on the sidewalk. It's a shame smoking doesn't cause cancer instantly and cancer doesn't kill immediately. Fuck all of them in their diseased, littering fucking assholes!
Posted by brokn2pieces on September 15, 2009 at 10:53 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 31
Don't ban smoking in parks.

Ban cigarette and cigar butts in parks - $10,000 fine.

Park funding crisis solved and our cops can stop busting people for MJ and do more important things like reduce littering.
Posted by Will in Seattle on September 15, 2009 at 11:01 AM · Report this
kitschnsync 32
You and Loveschild are on the same page here, Dan. What does that tell you?
Posted by kitschnsync on September 15, 2009 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 33
@30: You know, I've heard you can die from nicotine poisoning by having enough tobacco shoved up your ass. Pinheads like you make me want to find out if it's true.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on September 15, 2009 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Great, what a bunch of whiny ninnies trying to put a glossy veneer over their selfishness and disregard for other people's lifestyle options. And this time, it's not the smokers who are doing that (for a change).
Banning smoking indoors in public spaces makes a lot of sense, but outdoors? where's the scientific evidence backing that up?
"smoking bugs my whiny self-important ass" doesn't qualify.
Posted by Smokes on the beach on September 15, 2009 at 11:23 AM · Report this
blip 35
ah yes, i know whenever i have a question about science or public health, the first thing i ask is, "what does bloomberg have to say about all this?"
Posted by blip on September 15, 2009 at 11:48 AM · Report this
@16 says: "Most people, if spoken to nicely, will gladly move for you."

This is true. And nicely is the operative word. All you anti-smoking zealots remember: The consideration of smokers is inversely proportional to the self-righteousness displayed by non-smokers.
Posted by lori in bklyn on September 15, 2009 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Bonefish 37
I've never understood the weird persecution complex that smokers get when smoking is banned in a new type of crowded area (workplaces, bars, parks, whatever). You're not suffering through the 21st century's version of Jim Crow. Nobody's keeping track of who is and isn't "a smoker" and banning you from entering these areas, so knock it off with all the "pariah" talk. They're just refusing to allow you to have your cigarette at certain moments, in certain areas. It's not such an injustice; we do the same thing with shitting: you're not allowed to do it in crowded areas; you have to go to designated areas (bathrooms) because it's unsanitary and has an unpleasant smell. But that doesn't mean we're discriminating against people who shit. It just means that we recognize that there are places where shitting is and is not appropriate, and that it's in everyone's best interest for people to use those places accordingly.

It's not a very hard concept, guys: if you're surrounded by people, don't produce a carcinogenic, stagnant gas. Move over 30 or 40 feet. Wait an extra ten minutes until you've gotten to a less crowded place, or left the park or bar where it's not allowed. I don't see how people can piss and moan about having to do this before they get their cigarette, and then accuse non-smokers of being the whiny ones.

There's a difference between banning smokers and banning smoking. You're not banned from anything; you're just minorly inconvenienced by the fact that you can no longer have your cake and eat it too, at a second's notice, at the expense of everyone surrounding you.

Remember, smoking is an activity; it's not a genetic trait, it's not a necessary bodily function, it's not something that you get to feel discriminated against over when you're not allowed to do it whenever and wherever you want.

Don't get me wrong; you can debate the greater implications of banning activities (such as smoking) in public, and whether anything like that should be banned. You can debate whether or not it's a "nanny state" law. Just don't make it a fucking civil rights issue, because it's not. That's all I'm saying.
Posted by Bonefish on September 15, 2009 at 1:26 PM · Report this
@30: "Fuck commuters. That's right, FUCK COMMUTERS! I'm tired of breathing their exhaust, tired of dealing with their noisy engines and obnoxious honking whether at the park, on the beach or on the sidewalk. It's a shame driving doesn't cause car crashes instantly and car crashes don't kill immediately. Fuck all of them in their diseased, polluting fucking assholes!"

Okay, with the snark aside, I'd like to address what I think are the three main arguments I'm seeing in these comments:
1. littering: not all smokers litter their butts. Do all Starbucks patrons litter their cups?
2. smell: personally, I can't stand the smell of perfume and cologne.
3. health: second hand smoke is a serious health concern; the trouble is that we tend to view all second hand smoke the same. The amount of smoke you breathe by occasionally being nearby smokers is orders of magnitude below say what a child with a smoking parent experiences. The way second hand smoke studies are done is by taking a group of nonsmokers who have been exposed to second hand smoke (i.e., nonsmoker with smoking spouse) and comparing their health with the general population of nonsmokers (i.e., y'all). Now tell me if banning smoking in parks is gonna help the kids sitting at home with mom smoking cigarettes all day? This proposal is like saying we should ban sharks in aquariums because dozens of people die of shark attacks in the open ocean each year.
Posted by Trevor A on September 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 39
@38 - yeah, and not all drunks get into DUI accidents or puke over the sidewalk or pee in the alleys.

Posted by Will in Seattle on September 15, 2009 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 40
What's the difference between blowing cigarette smoke where someone else has to breathe and spraying them with benzene or carbon tetrachloride? All carcinogenic. Social acceptability? Precedence?

No one should have to breathe someone's smoke. Not in doorways. Not at sheltered bus stops. Not on crowded streets. I do everything I can to move away from someone who is lighting up sometimes at personal inconvenience, but if it's raining and I'm waiting for a bus under a canopy or if I'm trapped behind someone puffing on the street, put that fucking cigarette out!
Posted by Bauhaus I on September 15, 2009 at 2:31 PM · Report this
@40 what is the difference between driving a car where someone else has to breathe and spraying them with Carbon Monoxide? Car culture?

Smokers get it, most non-smokers don't like the smell of smoke. I don't like the sound of crying kids, the smell of cooking meat, or the look of fat people. Should they all avoid me? No I deal with them because living in a community means putting up with some things I don't like. If those things bothered me enough I would move to the middle of no where. Since they don't I stay in the city.
Posted by Little Red Ryan Hood on September 15, 2009 at 2:42 PM · Report this
veo_ 42
@41 I completely agree. I'm a non-smoker but the occasional second hand smoke I encounter around the city or in parks is part of living in a society with other people.

Well all have to put up with minor annoyances because we've chosen to live in a city. Kids running around and screaming bother me WAY MORE then second hand smoke does. Should we ban kids from public parks too...I mean they are invading my space and no one should have to put up with anything they find annoying, right? RIGHT?
Posted by veo_ on September 15, 2009 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 43
@41 - for crying babies you can wear ear plugs (or stay out of Disneyland), for the offensive sight of fat people (hmmm) you can avert your gaze, and you won't generally smell meat cooking unless there's a meat event nearby. But how do you avoid cigarette smoke except by not breathing which I cannot do.

And as far as "we're all living in a city so put up with it" - well, there are somethings that city dwellers don't have to put up with. For instance, me taking a dump in your front yard might cause you to re-think the we-live-in-a-city thing.
Posted by Bauhaus I on September 15, 2009 at 3:43 PM · Report this
veo_ 44
@43 why should I have to put on headphones to avoid children at the park? By your reasoning, the onus should be on the parent to PREVENT me from ever hearing the children if they might bother me.

Wouldn't it just be more rational for everyone involved to either:

a) put up with a mild annoyance (children, second hand smoke) when in a public setting

b) politely ask the offender (smoker/parent) to move somewhere else

c) move yourself if you simply can't take it anymore.

I think it's much better to have some personal responsibility for your own preferences rather then dictating to everyone else what they should be doing at all times.
Posted by veo_ on September 15, 2009 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Whenever we go to Mad Beach there are smokers that light up on all sides of us... even my smoker friends think they are assholes... because of their inconsideration ultimately pissing me off every time I have ever gone there I would wholeheartedly support a smoking ban in public parks and beaches, particularly small ones like Mad Beach. Good job, rude smokers.
Posted by thunderchaps on September 15, 2009 at 8:47 PM · Report this
Bonefish 46
44: For all this talk of putting up with mild annoyances as part of city life, you sure don't seem to keen on my idea that smokers can put up with the mild annoyance of smoking away from other city dwellers. So it's a non-smoker's job to put up with the smoker, and not vice versa? Why? Last time I checked, cigarettes were a luxury and air was the default, not the other way around.

Most of my friends don't think that it's everyone else's job to deal with their cigarette smoke just so that they don't have to give two thoughts about where they light up. They're perfectly fine with taking an entire 40 seconds to step outside and find a spot away from crowds. The few smokers who refuse to do this tend to be giant self-centered assholes in general, and can frankly just deal with a ban if that's what it takes to get them to stop lighting up in the middle of a crowd of strangers. They're the ones that people ought to be getting pissed at, ruining things for all the considerate smokers out there.

And I hate screaming kids, too, but you should already know that there's a difference between banning certain people (kids, fat people, etc) and banning an activity. The latter just requires people to wait before indulging in a smoke. It's not a big deal.
Posted by Bonefish on September 16, 2009 at 1:52 AM · Report this
Dan, you're great. But I don't think you've spent much time down here in Madison Park. Or if you did so, I suspect you were smoking something yourself. We regular park users disagree with your assessment. Though it your analysis causes fewer people to come down here and use the beach, we applaud the notion. This is my take:…
Posted by madison park blogger on September 17, 2009 at 7:30 AM · Report this

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