Monday, May 21, 2007

When Is An Outdoor Park Just Like An Enclosed Airplane?

San Diego Union-Trbune columnist Gerry Braun writes about the city's no-smoking policy in Balboa Park. That's no smoking anywhere in the park, indoors or outdoors.

No surprise but smokers are sneaking cigarettes where they can. Don't expect the policy to change to make reasonable accommodations by allowing outdoor smoking areas, however. San Diego mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz says,
"'Creating smoking areas in an outdoor environment is laughable. It's no different than creating them on an airplane. There's nothing to stop the smoke.'" (Here.)
Hold that thought. Let it linger in your brain the way you would hold a puff of delicious cigar or pipe smoke in your mouth. Savor the delicious lunacy of the statement. A smoking area in an outdoor park is the same as a smoking area in an airplane. In other words, the environment inside an airplane is the same as a park's. Now that's laughable.

What isn't laughable is the level of anti-smoking zealotry in the formerly free state of California. Anti-smokers started out reasonably enough with bans in restaurants, workplaces, and bars. In other words, indoor locations.

Lately, however, anti-smokers have taken their abolitionist crusade to the great outdoors. Sometimes they dress up their proposals with health reasons. Every whiff of second-hand smoke will kill you, don't you know. Other times they propose bans so that children won't be exposed to seeing adults smoke. The horror.

But the real motivation behind anti-smoking zealotry comes out in Braun's column when Sainz describes the need to protect the public from second-hand smoke as "a moral imperative." This is what the anti-smoking campaign is about. It's a moral crusade. Smoking is a sin and smokers are sinners.


Republished once to fix label.

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This is really interesting to see how people think about smoking in different parts of the country. Our legislature in North Carolina recently voted against a proposal to ban smoking in public. We thought it would be interesting to see what residents of North Carolina thought about this, so we conducted a survey. One thing we found is that, at least here in North Carolina, people feel that smoking is more of a nuisance than it is a health problem. 30% said they would support a complete ban on all tobacco products. This was somewhat shocking since we have a deep heritage of tobacco farming and it has been a substantial part of the economy. More than 60% of the respondents support a public ban on smoking. But when we asked the same people to rank the greatest health threats, they put smoking behind drugs, obesity and alcohol. Check out our blog if you're interested. You can see how the responses break down according to age, race, gender and geography.
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