Smoke Outdoors? Banned Now in Many Places

It's a weird thing but I'm almost starting to feel sorry for smokers.

The AP reports today that more and more cities are moving to ban smoking outside, in parks and at beaches, even college campuses.

"Outdoor smoking bans have nearly doubled in the last five years, with the tally now at nearly 2,600 and more are in the works," according to the AP.

But some experts say there's not good medical evidence that cigarette smoke outdoors can harm the health of children and other passers-by.  I must admit, I absolutely hate it when I must walk through a fog of smoke leaving office buildings but now, at the same time, I feel some sympathy for these beleaguered souls, who, granted, should not be smoking for their own health, but who should have the freedom to do so if they choose.  This is America, after all, is it not?

And how about this?  "The evidence of a risk to people in open-air settings is flimsy," Ronald Bayer, a Columbia University professor, told the AP.

While there have been many studies done on secondhand smoke inside, not that much has been done on cigarette smoke that's drifting around outside.  The story notes that it's now being banned on playgrounds, at zoos, bus stops and even outside some buildings.  What's a smoker to do?

Quit is the obvious answer.  But that's like telling me not to eat chocolate.  Just can't do it.  And this IS a free country, last I looked.

But you can't overlook the naysayers. "There's no risk-free level of secondhand smoke," the AP quotes Brian King, an expert on secondhand smoke with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"People don't have to be dropping dead for you to regulate something," James Repace, a Maryland-based scientist-consultant who's done some outdoor studies, told the AP.

But here's kinda my opinion.  "It's supposed to be a free country," said Brianna Mills, a 26-year-old nursing student from suburban Marietta, who sat down for a quiet moment in a park with her Newports, unaware smoking is banned there.  "It's like: 'Where can you smoke?'"

I guess, just anywhere not near me.

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