Wednesday, June 15, 2011

San Clemente Considering Park Smoking Ban

Outdoor smoking bans in wide-open places like parks are spreading rapidly. Today, I report that San Clemente (California) is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking in all parks.

According to an article in the Orange County Register, smoking is already banned "on the city's beaches, on all city-operated trails and in designated canyons" and "within 25 feet of a playground."

City officials met last night to discuss the ban. As of the time this article went to press, I had not yet heard the result of last night's meeting.

The Rest of the Story

It is not clear what the justification for this proposed policy is. Since smoking is already banned on all beaches and on all city-operated trails and in canyons and within 25 feet of a playground, what is the substantial public health hazard that necessitates this policy?

As I argued in my op-ed in the New York Times: "in trying to convince people that even transient exposure to secondhand smoke is a potentially deadly hazard, smoking opponents risk losing scientific credibility. The antismoking movement has always fought with science on its side, but New York’s ban on outdoor smoking seems to fulfill its opponents’ charge that the movement is being driven instead by an unthinking hatred of tobacco smoke. That, in turn, could jeopardize more important fronts in the antismoking fight, in particular the 21 states that still allow smoking in bars and restaurants."

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