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Smoking Ban Hits (our) Home

I know we’ve beaten the hell out of these smoking ban stories, but this one is literally taking place in our town. According to an article in the Daily Freeman, our local paper, officials in the Town of Ulster, NY are considering banning smoking in town parks and near municipal buildings. Violations of the ban would be met with proposed fines of $50-250 per violation.

This time, though, the real story isn’t the ban itself, but the response we’ve seen to the article in the Freeman. At the time I’m writing this, there have been 10 comments on the article, nine of which speak against the ban, and five of which are made by self-identified nonsmokers. Some of these were just too good not to repost.

I think username “Da Man” on the comments board said it best: “I despise smoking, it is disgusting and I can’t stand being around it. That being said, what gives government the right to tell you that you can’t smoke outside. It doesn’t stop here. While I might love to see smoking stopped, I may not like the next thing that they decide to “ban”. Stay out of our lives and go fix a budget…..there are plenty out there to fix.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Another commenter, username “nyg8torfan,” had this to say to Ulster County officials: “Do the job we elected you to do or go home, or we will vote you out and replace you with someone with common sense, and a memory of history. Our parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters fought and died so that we could have simple freedoms, do not taint that with trying to legislate morality.”

The one commenter who appeared to support the ban, username “deja_vu,” posted only this response to the article: “Smoking is disgusting, period.” Thanks for the input, deja_vu, but please keep these types of complaints to yourself while the grown-ups are talking.

Just to end with a good comment, here’s one from username “connie mack” that sums it up pretty nicely: “the tobacco free action coalition are a bunch of health nazi control freaks. this is absurd. when do we, as a society stop trying to legislate morality or lifestyle choices for others? i don’t smoke. but i think other people’s liberties are more important than a lobbyist group’s agenda. doesn’t the town board have better things to do?”

I think this kind of discourse says something about nanny legislation, especially given how many nonsmokers spoke against the proposal. It’s not a matter of “keeping the air clean,” but rather a matter of taking baby steps towards trampling personal freedoms everywhere.

I just hope that the people who commented on this article (even deja_vu) are the types of people who go to town meetings to voice their opinions about legislation like this. A public hearing on this proposal is expected to take place at the Town Board meeting on February 17—you can bet I’ll be there. For anyone in the Kingston area who’s reading this and feels like getting involved, a detailed calendar of town meetings can be found here.

EDIT: The meeting is now scheduled to take place on March 3.

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