Wednesday, August 10, 2011

15 Days in Jail for Smoking in a Park?

According to an article in the Glens Falls Post Star, the Glens Falls (NY) Common Council has enacted an ordinance which bans smoking in all city parks and violators are subject to up to 15 days of jail time.

Apparently, the ordinance bans not only smoking, but also smokeless tobacco use and the use of any type of tobacco product.

The Rest of the Story

Sending someone to jail for 15 days for smoking in a part seems rather extreme. The idea that someone could be forced to live in the slammer for 2 weeks because he used smokeless tobacco in a park is simply ludicrous. Since smokeless tobacco produces no smoke, it is not causing harm to anyone else. Thus, it is nothing more than a "moral" offense. To be forced to serve jail time for an offense that harms no one else (and which could potentially be an effort on the part of the user to reduce harm to himself) is ridiculous.

I would argue that even smoking a cigarette in a park causes no harm to anyone else. Certainly it causes no harm that the other person is unable to easily avoid. There is no need to ban smoking in parks, but there is certainly no justification for making it a criminal offense carrying potential jail time.

On the heels of my post yesterday about King James I and his casting of smoking as sin - a moral offense - today's story reinforces my argument that the tobacco control movement has not progressed in its view of tobacco use in the past 400 years.

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