This week, the Cobleskill Village Board thought better of proposing an ill-conceived ban on smoking in Cobleskill’s parks. With skateboarders just recently winning back the right to skate on village streets without getting their name in the police blotter, the Village went straight back to the drawing board with another bad idea with which to harass and ticket village residents.
For the record, I do not smoke nor do I particularly care to be in the presence of people who do. But when I think of this law I have nightmares of finger-wagging do-gooders barking in people’s faces about what’s right and wrong, and this to me is far more irritating than second-hand smoke. I have no problem with banning smoking indoors. Smokers have no business puffing away blowing second-hand smoke in someone’s face in a contained area. But outside, if I confront you about your cigarette smoke I’m risking a punch in the face. And that’s fine with me.
As for setting an example for children, this is perhaps among the dumbest and scariest reasons for passing a bill imaginable. Children are not precious little artifacts to be sheltered from every possible danger that exists in the real world. Nor are they particularly benefited by policies that suck all the fun out of life.
Another dimension to this issue, is the question of who has the right to use Cobleskill’s parks. Banning smoking seems very much like an idea born of middle class concerns about children and safety. Meanwhile, smoking seems to be a practice concentrated among working class and poor people. I doubt village officials are consciously pushing the ban for these reasons. Nonetheless, these tensions are real and a ban would seem to have the largest impact on the so-called ‘wrong elements’ considered undesirable by middle class soccer moms and do-gooders. For all these reasons and more, the smoking ban was a bad idea. The Village has better things to do and park-users don’t need another annoying law to comply with. The Village’s parks are over-regulated as it is.