Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Smoking a Civil Right?

I don’t like to focus on these kinds of statements, but I will in this case, because the Times-Journal saw fit to put it on its front page. In the lead story in their Oct 24th issue, covering the proposed smoking ban in village parks, the Times-Journal featured this quote from a concerned citizen “I’m a smoker, but I’m a responsible smoker. Please respect my civil rights.”

Up until now, I had no idea that smoking was a civil right. I had no idea that smokers huddling outside of a hospital were actually having their civil rights trampled in violation of the constitution!

After checking the constitution though, I couldn’t find any references to smoking. However, if the Times-Journal printed it, I’m sure it’s accurate.


Anonymous said...

What's the connection between "smokers huddling outside of a hospital" have to do with a smoking ban in a public park?

Use of a legal substance in a public area would seem to be included in "The rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship, especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, including civil liberties, due process, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from discrimination." (Quotation from:

The applicable part of the 14th amendment appears to be: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges...of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person"
A public park is the property of the people who pay taxes to maintain it. Ergo, it is the property of those people whether they smoke or not.

If you're castigating the Times Journal for its presentation of the news, ignore all that. I'm in agreement with you.

Sean Thomaston said...

Ha, it's funny because I'm actually in favor of an "anything goes" approach to public parks. The fact is, Cobleskill's parks, like many parks in general are overregulated, curfews, alcohol ban, skateboarding bans, etc. Constitutionally, the government is entirely able to regulate behavior in public parks so that one group of people don't alienate others from using the park. I just don't think they should.

I think you should be able to do anything you want in the park. But that's because I'm a deviant and a freak, not necessarily a civil libertarian.

If you want to smoke outdoors in a public park, go ahead. Screw anyone meddlesome and obnoxious enough to complain about it. It's just that calling smoking a "civil right" seems absurdly sanctimonious.

Anonymous said...

"However, if the Times-Journal printed it, I'm sure it's accurate." :) Thank goodness for Google! When I find (stumble upon)more interesting, relevant stuff, I'll post it. Hope you had a chance to see those renderings. Keep taking names and kicking heinie.

Anonymous said...

Update re: T-J. Wish I could leave a webaddress, alas, can only leave a timeframe: 06/2006... xref: ""condos"; and "250". The rest I will leave, well, up to you.