Smoking may be banned in Schenectady parks

Playgrounds, pools already covered

Thursday, July 26, 2012
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— For now, smokers watching their children at city playgrounds can step away and light a cigarette. But that may soon be illegal.

The City Council is considering a ban on smoking in all parks — an extension of the current ban at playgrounds and pools. It would mean smokers must walk out to the road to smoke — or wait.

“We shouldn’t have smoking in the parks, because the parks are someplace to go for your health and well-being,” said Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard.

Other council members have discussed setting up smoking areas in the parks but the current legislation doesn’t allow for it. Blanchard said it’s not needed.

“Your house can be a designated smoking area,” she said.

At least one smoker thinks the ban is a good idea.

Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen, who smokes, has watched as more and more places are closed to him. But he’s also noticed that fewer people are smoking.

“The more deterrence, the more people will quit. Maybe I’ll be one of them,” he said.

He once quit for 41⁄2 years before giving in to temptation. Having to keep the cigarettes in his pocket at the parks might be enough to push him back to the smoke-free life, he said.

“Smoking is a nasty habit, and no one should do it. The more difficult they make it, the more expensive they make it, the more people will quit,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, I’ll tell you that.”

Park smoking bans are becoming more common. The village of Scotia and towns of Glenville, Niskayuna and Rotterdam all ban smoking in their parks.

Blanchard said she called for a city park smoking ban after learning about the suburban bans.

“I was embarrassed,” she said. “We should be in the vanguard of this movement.”

She added that she’s not moved by smokers who say it’s unfair that they can’t use the park while enjoying a smoke.

“Smoking is not good for your health anyway so that’s not a valid argument,” she said. “This will be one more reason to fight it.”

Just don’t expect police officers to enforce the ban. Blanchard acknowledged that the police are busy and are unlikely to have time for smoking patrols.

Instead, she said, residents will have to enforce the rule themselves by asking smokers to stop.

“I think that many people would do that,” she said.

Olsen agreed. A posted sign will deter most people, he said.

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July 26, 2012
12:56 a.m.
hodgkins.t says...

im glad schenectady is not in the vanguard in the elimination of Liberty. vehicular petroleum combustion is bad for you health, but there are parking spaces in the parks, even roads, hot dogs are bad for your health, twinkies are bad for your health..... where does it end? the mandated optimuo pill and organo slurie

one does not have the right to directly foul community air--smoking close to other people who do not want to inhale tobacco combustion- but if one is far away from people-they must retain liberty to smoke what they please

negative externalities from personal choices can be minimized with regulation or taxation, but when personal choices have zero or remote negative impacts upon others, then society must allow for personal liberty

July 26, 2012
11:28 p.m.
ChuckD says...

First, I'm a light smoker.
Second, I hope other smokers are reading this: clean up your act.

I completely agree with hodgkins.t; we do have a right to smoke out in the open air and in many ways it is a matter of personal liberty but you do yourselves no favors by tossing your butts on the ground and polluting non-smokers' air. I'm absolutely disgusted and embarrassed by what I see around the entrances to buildings and elsewhere. And I cringe seeing parents smoking in the presence of their kids (worse, in the car with their kids).

If smokers showed a little more personal responsibility for their habit/addiction they might see less of this legislative insanity. For now I can't blame them for banning it in the parks.

July 28, 2012
6:21 p.m.
robbump says...

"I've got a great idea! Let's pass a law that we don't expect anyone in government to enforce!" - paraphrasing "Nanny" Blanchard.

Now I agree with "ChuckD" but let's face it, most of the smokers who would obey this law probably already do avoid smoking where others are bothered by it, and the rest are not going to be deterred by someone "asking" them to put it out, unless it's a cop who's asking.

Pass this type of legislation for places where people gather, such as on park benches, in lines, in the immediate playground area, at bus stops, in bus shelters ... but to outlaw smoking in an entire park, ESPECIALLY a large park like Central is ... well, idiotic.

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