User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: Ban Smoking in City Parks?......Really?

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Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ban Smoking in City Parks?......Really?

Do you inhale?  Like next to the guy with the big stoogie when walking in the park?  I hope not, but I still never thought smoking outdoors was that big a deal.  We now have people trying to ban smoking everywhere - even on solitary walks i  the park.  I don't smoke, but smoking outdoors doesn't bother me.  In any event, with the crime problem here, we have bigger fish to fry.

A few years ago, an anti-smoking group ran a commercial on national TV featuring cartoon characters.  I don't remember the content of the commercial exactly, but fanciful claims about the benefits of smoking were made, then one character says in response to the other "Really?".

The implication of course is that any claims that smoking is beneficial are pure fantasy, just as talking cartoon characters are also fictitious.  Perhaps the anti-smoking group lobbying city council for a law against smoking in city parks should take heed to their own propaganda and realize they are coming across like a bunch of idiots.

For the third year in a row, the anti-smoking ordinance has been introduced to city council.  The first time, in 2013, it was voted down.  In 2014 it was tabled after several residents objected.  Maybe they should take a hint, but the cigarette Nazis never seem to give up.

The rationale given for this law is that a majority of people responded "yes" to a survey at National Night Out asking whether or not they wanted smoking banned in parks.  The group also mentioned that smoking is banned in parks at about a quarter of all municipalities in New Jersey, including Princeton and it is time for Trenton to get with the program.

So why not then?  For one thing, several city councilmen stated that they never got any complaints from residents about smoking in the parks.  And the 50 survey participants at the National Night Out event are not representative of the city's 60,000 or so residents.  They are likely to be more politically engaged and probably wealthier and more educated than typical people who live here.  After all a sizable minority of city dwellers are at least occasional users of illegal drugs such as marijuana.  And reefer is normally smoked, isn't it.

So what, who cares what the unwashed masses think.  We need this law to "protect the children" and "for people's health".  My response is that our children have seen a lot worse things than a few people smoking tobacco outdoors and "health" is often the excuse given to promote a puritanical agenda.  After all why can we buy paint and can smell the fumes to our heart's content if we are painting something, but if we put the paint in a bag, then breathe from the bag in a deliberate attempt to get high, that's illegal.  I don't recommend that anyone sniff paint, but one gets you just as sick as the other.  The point is not to protect people the ill effects of paint fumes but to keep people from using the product to get high.  The same can be said about this law.  It is not to protect anybody's health but to take away one more place where we can still legally smoke.

Of course there's the most practical reason of all for not passing this law.  Trenton doesn't have the manpower to enforce it.  To prove my point, I will list the headlines from the three police blotter entries from the July 3rd edition of the Trenton Times.  They are, "Boy Wounded in Drive-by Shooting", "Two Hurt by Gunfire on N. Broad Street",  and "Argument Ends in Early Morning Gunfire".  Now let's see, the suburban towns have police blotter entries about things like cut car tires and nothing less than a shooting that results in a wounding makes the police blotter in Trenton.  Perhaps our police should be concentrating on arresting people involved in violent crime rather than looking for people lighting up in the parks.

I can see it now, a squad of cops diverted to the anti-smoking patrol while the bodies pile up on city streets.  Perhaps the extra money brought in by those $500 fines for lighting up in the park can go to hire more cops.  That's revenue enhancement at its finest.

So let's get back to reality and kill the anti-smoking bill.  Our cops have more important things to do.

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