No Smoking In Parks

The Kingston Common Council is considering a complete ban on smoking cigarettes in all city parks, as proposed by Alderwoman Andi Turco-Levin, R-Ward 1.

It’s a good idea that would continue the process of incrementally decreasing the public range of smoking cigarettes, the health hazards of which are well-known.

It also would correct the failure of the Common Council in 2008 to impose a park-wide ban that had been under consideration. Instead, the Common Council and Mayor James Sottile agreed to a limited smoking cigarettes ban at park facilities.

We believe smoking cigarettes should be a legal, but largely private vice.

By incrementally driving smoking cigarettes out of public spaces, both the health hazard of close proximity to second-hand smoke cigarettes and the annoyance of lesser contact are being limited.

Still better, banning smoking cigarettes from social contexts limit its attraction to those who would start the habit.

The argument raised by Alderman Robert Senor, D-Ward 8, that the ostensible inability to enforce the limited ban within parks should preclude its extension throughout is unconvincing.

The truth is that most laws depend largely on voluntary compliance. And, with regard to smoking cigarettes bans, compliance has been pretty successful across the nation with every new prohibition. Remarkably so, actually, given the hold that nicotine addiction can have over smokers.

Further, a good argument can be made that fragmentary bans are harder to impress upon patrons than outright bans. A few signs proclaiming smoking cigarettes is prohibited in the park would convey a clear, unequivocal message.

It’s a clear and unequivocal message that society increasingly has been sending about smoking cigarettes — the less, the better.