Limit — don’t ban — smoking in Girard parks
Unquestionably, members of Girard City Council have their hearts in the right place for considering a ban on smoking in the city’s parks, but we think they should think twice before an upcoming vote that would place even more restrictions on a society already overrun with regulations.
The goal, obviously is to protect public health, and few would argue smoking isn’t a nasty habit. Officials, prompted by a nurse at the Trumbull Combined Health District, said a big concern is smokers exposing children to tobacco smoke and vaping, particularly near playground areas or at the ballfields.
We get that, and certainly no one denies the proven dangers of secondhand smoke nor the impact it can have on impressionable young children.
But consider this. The park is meant to be enjoyed by all — including visitors who may enjoy taking in a pipe or a cigarette. Even Ohio law, which bans smoking inside public buildings, allows for smoking areas on outdoor patios in restaurants and bars.
Of further concern is the fact that city officials have said they will urge park employees to remind people not to smoke.
Really? We do not see policing parks for visitors acting in unhealthy ways as the responsibility of park employees. Frankly, where does it end? If we are going this far, why not also urge employees to police picnic areas for people drinking sugary drinks or fatty foods?
Before council finalizes more regulations on what already has gone through two council readings, we suggest they consider an amendment to the legislation that instead would create tobacco-free zones or establish designated smoking areas in the parks, rather than banning smoking across the board.
Such limits could protect against secondhand smoke while still allowing smokers to enjoy the outdoors in the community park that their tax dollars also support.