Herald Journal Columns
April 3, 2006, Herald Journal

Hassling smokers not city’s job


Using tobacco is not good. I admit that up front. I’m not a smoker and I think all smokers should quit now. If the only way to get them to quit is to hassle them whenever they light up, then so be it.

However, I don’t believe it is the responsibility of the City of Dassel to provide the hassle.

A couple of weeks ago, a group of Dassel Cokato students, Teens Against Tobacco Use, made a presentation to the Dassel City Council. The students proposed that all city owned playgrounds, outdoor recreation areas, including athletic fields, city owned open spaces, trails and beaches be tobacco-free.

All of these facilities are outdoors in the wind and fresh air. According to one of the handouts given to the city council, “city recreational facilities should not be exposed to the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.”

Has there ever been a documented case of someone contracting cancer from breathing secondhand tobacco smoke while outdoors? That is hard for me to believe.

It’s doubtful that the advocates of antismoking laws actually believe the volume of smoke from cigarettes outdoors in the fresh air and wind would be any worse than the smoke from a campfire, grill or bonfire.

Does this mean the Dassel Red Rooster Days committee won’t be allowed to grill its famous barbecue chicken in September because it creates smoke outdoors?

The real agenda of proponents of anti-tobacco laws is to make smoking such a hassle and so difficult to do, that smokers will quit. That’s a good goal.

But it’s not the responsibility of the taxpayers and the City of Dassel to provide resources and peer pressure to hassle smokers.

The proponents of anti-tobacco laws hoped having students make the presentation about the tobacco-free parks would make the council members hesitate to say “no” to the tobacco ban. They hoped the council members would feel guilty about making students go to all that work of putting together an excellent presentation for nothing.

It’s not fair to the students and it’s not fair to the taxpayers of Dassel.

The Dassel City Council should say, “No. Anti-tobacco advocates can hassle smokers on their own dime, not the city’s.”

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