Philadelphia’s “City of Brotherly Love” moniker apparently doesn’t extend to those who enjoy a perfectly legal product. While Boston doesn’t have a similar catchphrase, the same can be said of two councilors there.
In Boston, Councilors Felix G. Arroyo and Salvatore LaMattina are, as the Boston Globe put it:
… proposing to ban smoking in public parks and beaches, carrying the decadeslong campaign to reduce tobacco use to some of the last remaining public spaces where lighting up is still allowed.
While Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has not publicly said if he would support such a ban, he has in the past been a strong supporter of banning smoking in bars and restaurants, as well as eliminating sales of cigarettes (and cigars, we presume) in pharmacies.
Both asthma sufferers, Councilors Arroyo and LaMattina have filed to hold a public hearing on their proposal. Arroyo’s and LaMattina’s measure would still allow smokers to enjoy their perfectly legal product on public sidewalks, though. Any action on the proposal is weeks or months away, the Globe noted.
Some sanity is shining through in Beantown, though, when it comes specifically to the outdoor ban in public parks. Boston Globe columnist Rob Anderson wrote:
[...] I don’t think the city council should ban smoking in parks and beaches. Here’s why:
The strongest and most effective argument used to pass anti-smoking laws has been that the bans protect people from second-hand smoke where they work and live. [...]
But this same argument doesn’t apply to park and beach goers. People who wish to avoid second-hand smoke there can — all they have to do is find a different bench to sit on, or move their beach blankets a few feet to the right or left. While finding a new place to relax may be annoying, it’s not that burdensome. Parks and beaches are big places. You can avoid smoke if you want to. The city shouldn’t create laws banning annoying activities that are easily avoidable by the people who wish to avoid them. Just this very once, I have to side with the smokers.
Other critics have said the ban is overreaching, and is an overly intrusive invasion of government into peoples’ private lives.
Meantime, in the City of Brotherly Love …
At the same time New York City started arguing last October over whether to extend its smoking ban to outdoor public parks, boulevards and other places — a fight that smokers lost — Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, D, and the Public Health department rolled an outdoor smoking ban for city-owned recreational facilities as a goal into its “Get Healthy Philadelphia” initiative.
In a public document, the mayor and the health department spelled out details on how and where they would enact the ban. Among other things, the ban would be enacted by executive order; in other words, the mayor would sign it into law all by himself.
In addition, the mayor would work with the Public Health department and the city’s Parks and Recreation department to determine the precise language of the ban, including any applicable fines or penalties, and to determine how to implement and enforce an outdoor ban.
Officials will also consult with other large cities in the U.S., like San Francisco, that already have similar outdoor smoking bans in place, according to the document.
Perhaps the most chilling sentence in the document for smokers? “Banning smoking in recreational facilities will help create a smoke-free environment in the City.”
While the document states Mayor Nutter’s goal of enacting the widened band, it does not give a timetable for when any legislation will be introduced, or when the mayor wants the ban to take effect.