No Butts About It

June 15, 2012 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Cigarettes are about to be banned on many Parks & Rec properties. Areas affected by the ban include playgrounds, ballfields, skate parks, and the Ager Junior Golf Course.

Except not really.

Despite the Journal Star’s initial language (“tobacco will be banned”), it’s not a ban at all. It’s more of a “pretty please stop doing that”. The biggest change from the status quo is that signs will be posted. Beyond that there’s apparently nothing stopping a tobacco user from doing his thing. The LJS article ends with the following:

Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said people who smoke in posted areas will be politely asked to put out the cigarette or leave.

Johnson’s statement raises more questions than it answers. First, who is “politely asking”? It’s not like there are City employees wandering around ballfields and playgrounds. Regular Joes like you and me could politely ask, but we can already do that. Tobacco users can now, just as in the past, politely tell us to go make love with ourselves.

Then there’s the issue of telling an offender to leave. On what authority can a City employee tell a tobacco user to leave the premises? If the employee tells a person to leave and that person says no ... then what? Does it become trespassing? Can one legitimately be said to be trespassing on public property when his only crime is not, in fact, a crime?

I’m no doubt complicating the issue. But I’ve dealt with smokers who didn’t even understand the concept of not smoking near a fireworks tent. Among tobacco’s many side effects is the power to make a person quite stubborn. Smokers will push the issue, non-smokers will fight back, and police will be involved. I can imagine 911 calls like this:

Caller: There’s a man smoking near the slide!
911: Smoking isn’t illegal, ma’am.
Caller: But the sign says ... !
911: I understand, ma’am, but that sign is just ...
Caller: Send the cops or I’ll put out the cigarette on her face!
911: *sigh*

Obviously an ordinance would be simpler.

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The Comments

Fletch June 15, 2012 at 3:11pm

This seems like it would be about as effective as the signs telling people not to bring dogs to the YMCA fields (you can always find a dog anyway).

Just Thinkin' June 15, 2012 at 8:37pm

Having a “no smoking” sign with no real enforcement sends a bad message to kids. Kids know the sign says “no smoking in the park” but see grown-ups in the park smoking. The message sent to the kids is “no does not mean no.” Kids learn rules or laws do not have to be followed. A kid thinks “if adults do not have to obey rules, why should I.”

Mr. Wilson June 15, 2012 at 9:13pm

If that’s the first time kids figure out that adults are full of crap, then those are some extremely sheltered kids. I don’t mean that snarkily either. The world is filled with examples of this. Part of being a kid is being bamboozled by it all and, one hopes, eventually figuring it out enough to become a decent member of society.

Dave K June 16, 2012 at 3:38am

I hope your kids aren’t allowed anywhere near any street in America where people can be seen routinely exceeding the posted speed limit.

Dave K June 16, 2012 at 3:38am

Smoking is healthier than fascism!

Just Thinkin' June 18, 2012 at 12:44pm

“adults are full of crap”

Maybe they should post that sign in the parks.

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