Smokeless in the park

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Franklin County government, a late convert to the smoke-free movement, now seems determined to make up for lost time. Judge-Executive Ted Collins is touting the county’s Lakeview Park as the first in Kentucky to prohibit outdoor smoking. A dozen signs have been posted around the recreational area on the east side of the county to advise visitors of the new rule.

It was only this spring that Fiscal Court finally broke down and followed the example set by the City Commission six years ago and forbade smoking in most indoor public places. Not everyone agreed with the idea. Magistrates Phillip Kring, Larry Perkins and Lambert Moore dissented in the 4-3 vote, reflecting the sentiment of many county residents that smoking is a right government shouldn’t take away.

Smokers still have the right to use a legal product, in their own homes, private clubs and tobacco warehouse and stores, but most other indoor places are off limits.

This does not mean that no one ever smokes in restricted locations. Everyone knows they do. As a practical matter, it’s up to business owners and managers to decide whether the smoking ban is enforced on their property. Some strictly adhere to the law while others politely look away when employees or customers light up. Neither the city nor the county takes an aggressive enforcement stance. There’s no smoking police. In fact, some of the real police probably resent restrictions on their own tobacco habits.

Nor do we expect county Sheriff Pat Melton to take time away from his war on illegal drugs to track down smokers at Lakeview Park. Signs or not, it’s a good bet plenty of people will keep indulging there. Judy Mattingly, coordinator of the county health department’s Mobilizing for Actions through Planning and Partnerships, told State Journal reporter Kevin Wheatley the outdoor smoking ban is intended to be “self-enforcing.” Which is to say, park patrons who wanted the rule to be respected have the right to point to the signs and challenge violators to comply. The park security guard is also authorized to ask visitors to refrain from smoking.

Even though the county believes its park smoking ban is the first in the commonwealth, it’s certainly not the first rule against outdoor smoking. Signs prohibiting tobacco use near the entrances to both government and business buildings have proliferated. The Frankfort Regional Medical Center was one of the first to set the standard, and the Frankfort Independent school system instituted a campus ban years ago; Franklin County Schools joined last year with a policy that forbids smoking even by parents inside their own cars while stopping by to pick up children.

Including the park in such policies crashes a barrier because some who support smoking bans elsewhere see the great outdoors as a place where individual choice should rule. What they may forget is that Smokey the Bear has warned us for decades of the dangers discarded cigarettes pose to parks and woodlands. In this drought year, especially, no one should smoke where the grass is crispy and stray sparks could ignite dry brush. Not to mention that piles of cigarette butts detract from the natural beauty park patrons desire.

Today’s smokers mostly recognize they’re in the minority and have no wish to offend the majority. Relatively few insist on defying the new restrictions in public buildings. And more and more are coming to the realization that they, too, would be better off kicking the habit and enjoying the simple pleasure of breathing fresh air, indoors and out.

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  • The harmful effects of tobacco have been studied for 60 years...more than all other drugs combined. In early 1993, EPA released a report (Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders; EPA/600/6-90/006 F) that evaluated the respiratory health effects from breathing secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)). In that report, EPA concluded that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adult nonsmokers and impairs the respiratory health of children. These findings are very similar to ones made previously by the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Surgeon General. The EPA report classified secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, a designation which means that there is sufficient evidence that the substance causes cancer in humans. The Group A designation has been used by EPA for only 15 other pollutants, including asbestos, radon, and benzene. Only secondhand smoke has actually been shown in studies to cause cancer at typical environmental levels. EPA estimates that approximately 3,000 American nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke. Every year, an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 children under 18 months of age get pneumonia or bronchitis from breathing secondhand tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for the development of asthma in children and worsens the condition of up to one million asthmatic children.

  • bodeen, So What? The farmers are just supplying the people with a product that they want...you can't blame them for those who are addicted to tobacco. Growing tobacco is an honorable profession. Prohibition never works as people will always find a way to get what they want. Prohibition just gets the criminal element involved and that is worse than ANY of tobaccos ill effects.

  • "All this discussion about smoking and health probably has little to do with the POLITICAL DECISION made by the County Judge to ban outdoor smoking in the county park. This is pure political." How do YOU know? Sounds like you have a personal problem with Judge Collins that is purely political and not the facts. You have the right to your opinion, but that is all that it is without substantiation.

  • All this discussion about smoking and health probably has little to do with the POLITICAL DECISION made by the County Judge to ban outdoor smoking in the county park. This is pure political. Ted Collins has found a hot button or someone on the court has found a hot button for favorable discussion. The reason smoking is banned in the county park is for votes next time around. Ted Collins is a professional politician do not expect decisions to be made to improve your health. IMO HEALTH is not the reason for the ban . . . it's votes with no investment as most are opposed and have smoke phobia. jas

  • Posted too quick. -----It is ironic that Ted has always been a tobacco fan & his family has made a living off it. Ted never minded hauling his addictive cancer causing crops off to the market every year for that fat check & if there had never been a government buy out, then this policy would never came about & instead, Ted would be cutting & housing his crop about right now & thinking about that money just like all the other tobacco farmers.

  • The second hand smoke argument is weak & laughable If health is truly the concern then they're much more worse pollution creating stuff that should had been banned. Oh, the non smokers likes those things though. History has proved time & again that they simply cannot leglislate habits. The more they try the worse it gets. Debunk that! ---------Now on a personal note & opinion, Our government should had banned cigarettes a long time ago. I am a smoker & I know the dangers but BIG TOBACCO profits & government pockets were more important than ALL OF OUR HEALTHS. If they were any newer item that came out & it was discovered to be anywheres of a 10th as dangerous as tobacco, then it would never hit the market. Our government simply wouldn't allow it. Here is my opinion, Quit leglislating tobacco & just outright ban it altogether. That will save lives.

  • 1713, I'll accept any study that you cite that is available for free examination and are willing to defend as valid. Go take a look at what's out there and pick out the very best studies. You can find that show any real danger to people from the kinds of exposures that they would be getting normally in a park. Pick ones that you can read and understand and defend. I promise I won't mind at all. Steve, sorry, that wasn't much of a comeback. I have no money, no power, and no public microphone other than what you see right here and in my book. If you want to call me a bully simply because the arguments I make a good I guess that's your privilege. But you should recognize that it IS a weak argument. – MJM

  • I don't have time to argue with you about it...it is established science supported by volumes of peer-reviewed studies that second hand smoke is a killer. What is the use, as you will not accept any of my sources as valid...

  • LOL @ 'weak excuse'. You've been a bully for quite a while, eh?

  • 1713 wrote, " Your book contains the debunked junk science regarding the dangers of ETS" Really 1713? Why don't you cite a couple of specific examples that you noticed so that you can expose my folly to everyone here? Or will you dodge with a weak excuse about taking bait? Heh, or do I even need to ask? - MJM

  • MF, your conspiracy theories about the ban increasing dangers of forest fires because somehow it is gonna make smokers more likely to throw out burning cigarettes into the bush is a red-herring joke! Your book contains the debunked junk science regarding the dangers of ETS. I will never convince you of this regardless of what I cite, so why bother? You sound like a junkie defending his drug. Why don't you just quit?

  • Nope, not taking any bait. :o) "And more and more are coming to the realization that they, too, would be better off kicking the habit and enjoying the simple pleasure of breathing fresh air, indoors and out."

  • Steve, nice to see that you stop back. But disappointing that you still don't seem to have any comment on what I wrote on August 27? -MJM

  • (careful there, 1713, MJ sounds like he's 'loaded for bear.')

  • Debunked decades ago anonymous1713? Care to share some specific references for that claim? - MJM

  • McFadden's apocalyptic rendition of the outcome of the smoking ban on society is tired old rhetoric that was debunked decades ago. It sounds like a junkie trying to defend his drug, which is akin to trying to put a happy face on cannibalism. After all, cannibalism isn't such a bad thing as after the fall of our civilization, we will ALL be doing it, right? And will we not be seeking out the smokers, since smoked meat lasts longer? I mean REAALLY!

  • Hmm... nope. Smoking could be banned worldwide and it wouldn't bother me. (I'm an ex-smoker, but not militant about it.)

  • Steve and RHerron, thank you for filling me in on the background. However, I note that neither of you had anything to say about my more significant posting on August 27. Do you have any comments to make on that? - MJM

  • Is an "ordinance" law enough for you, MJM?

  • The Lakeview Park smoking ban is part of the general smoking ban ordinance passed by Fiscal Court in May.

  • "Smokey the Bear has warned us for decades of the dangers discarded cigarettes pose to parks and woodlands." Smokey the Bear is a pyromaniac. On a more serious note, a generalized smoking ban may produce MORE of a fire risk .. if indeed you really care and aren't simply using the "fire card" as an easy weapon. Without the ban people are aware of the general danger and almost always, even if they're litterbugs, take some care in disposing of their butts. They'll also be likely to pay attention to signs designating certain areas as no smoking because of fire dangers or signs indicating no smoking temporarily because of a drought and its fire dangers. Replace those with a generalized and unreasonable outdoors ban and you'll (1) have lots of people flouting it generally, (2) have lots of people ignoring specific risk warnings because they'll figure they're as unjustified and manipulative as the overall warning, (3) have instances of people "sneaking a quick smoke" who then rapidly and improperly ditch the still-burning butt when they spot likely trouble coming down the trail. Put those together and your ban may CAUSE more fires than it would prevent. Will that make you reconsider the desirability of a ban? Or will you simply switch to one of the other arguments? Perhaps the children, or the wildlife, or the litter, or the deadliness of the merest wisp of a scent of smoke in the air? Michael J. McFadden Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" -- who is still waiting to hear whether this is a legal law at all or just a decree set out by a bureacratic tinpot dictator or commission...

  • Now that our illustrious county judge for life, Ted Collins, has passed his no smoking ordinance ( "Teds Law" ) for Lakeview Park, I wonder what will come of this? Will the Sheriffs dept be called to Lakeview Park to hand out tickets to parents of the little kids who are there playing ball? What about all the events held at Lakeview, will the Sheriff have to pay overtime to enforce "Teds Law"? What about the food served at these events? Will they be allowed to grill the food? You know it smokes and is carcinogenic, certainly worse than cigarettes. Will BBQ smokers be allowed on the park grounds or will they have to use the parking lot at the old Central Screw factory to cook the food and cart it across the street. What about the exhaust out of the tailpipes of all the cars and trucks which drive onto park grounds. Think about the scope of the amount of exhaust from the tail pipes compared to someone smoking an itty bitty cigarette. OMG think about the tractor pulls, truck pulls, demolition derby, and little kids demolition derby, what a polluting mess for our lungs to breathe in. Will all Lakeview Park utility vehicles, tractors, golf carts, lawn and green mowers, weed eaters be converted to electric motors. Weed eaters as with all two cycle motors are the worst polluters around. Does "Teds Law" take into consideration the health of the county employees utilizing this polluting equipment? Their lungs are hurt much worse by that heavy polluting equipment than the occasional person walking by smoking a cigarette. "Teds Law" is obviously a knee jerk reaction to a few people upset with cigarette smokers. There is so much more lung cancer causing pollution being emitted by many other gasoline and diesel powered vehicles and equipment on Lakeview Park property. This reaction is so typical of Judge Collins and some Magistrates. Is this self serving trying to get votes? I can think of no other reason for "Teds Law" to even be considered. Our County Judge and some of the Magistrates think they cannot be defeated. Times are changing, Franklin County does not need to keep voting again and again to re-elect career politicians like Collins. (35 yr politician and double dipper) We need to encourage younger people to run for office to bring logical and well thought out ideas to Franklin County. Not laws like "Teds Law" which I hope is not even responded to by Sheriff Melton because he and the city police have way too many other important things to respond. Is the park staff deputized?

  • "Judge-Executive Ted Collins is touting the county’s Lakeview Park as the first in Kentucky to prohibit outdoor smoking. A dozen signs have been posted " So did the Judge-Exec just decree this as being law, or was there a vote? There's no mention of a vote, which is why I'm asking. :? MJM

  • Here's hoping that county Sheriff Pat Melton doesn't to take time away from trying to prevent, investigate and prosecute serious crimes in order to track down smokers at Lakeview Park, or for that matter, his so-called War on Drugs. I mean really, anyone with a computer and a credit card can get all of these pain pills that they want wholesale, direct from the manufacturers in India...so what are they really accomplishing besides wasting tax dollars? The Sheriff's Office should be spending its limited time and resources on investigating and preventing those "serious crimes" (murder, assault, rape, armed robbery, etc.) that the recent Kentucky State Police report tells us are committed every 2 minutes and 38 seconds in KY. It only makes (tax dollars and) sense.