, Derry, New Hampshire


November 28, 2013

Editorial: Tread lightly

A Derry mother wants her young children to enjoy town-owned parks without worrying about secondhand smoke.

That’s reasonable and responsible parenting. There’s no arguing smoking is unhealthy for those who do it, as well as for those around them.

Last week, Nicole Bump asked the Town Council to consider restricting, if not banning, smoking in Derry’s many public parks.

She takes her children to the park for exercise and fresh air, she said, but too often ends up keeping them off the swings because someone is smoking nearby.

Anyone who has ever shared space with a smoker, spent a spring afternoon picking up cigarettes butts along with other roadside litter, or watched a loved one succumb to lung cancer or emphysema can empathize.

But Town Councilors need to tread carefully.

While several councilors were quick to embrace the idea of a smoking ban in town parks, some were a little more cautious.

Former longtime smoker Councilor Al Dimmock was all for a ban, saying he knows all too well the risks associated with secondhand smoke. Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores wants to expand the idea, including the rail trail, dog park and transfer station in the ban.

But Councilor Mark Osborne inserted a few words of caution.

“I don’t want Derry to turn into the anti-smoking Gestapo,” he said. “I know, everything is always about the kids, but a lot of adults out there who pay taxes want to be able to enjoy the streets, the parks, the transfer station and walking paths.”

Indeed, few smokers are likely proud of their habit, but they, too, have rights. An outright public property ban seems extreme.

First off, what about common courtesy? If a smoking adult is insensitive enough to light up in close proximity to children, another adult ought to reasonably and politely ask them to snuff out the offensive butt or move elsewhere to finish it off.

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