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Talk of Derry playground smoking ban includes elsewhere in town

Union Leader Correspondent

November 21. 2013 11:29PM
LIBBY LEBLANC ...favors a townwide ban 

DERRY — Nicole Bump said she took her two children to Hood Park over the past weekend and encountered a woman who was pushing her children on the swings while smoking a cigarette.

Bump said she had to tell her children they couldn't use the swings because of fear they would be exposed to the woman's secondhand smoke.

What started out with councilors discussing smoking at playgrounds spread in recent days to include other public areas such as town parks. Councilors didn't take any action at Tuesday night's meeting about a smoking ban.

They said might want to bring up the matter again.

There is a state law regulating indoor smoking, and there isn't anything in New Hampshire statutes that prevents the town from imposing an outdoor smoking ban, said Ann Rice, deputy attorney general.

Rice said she wasn't providing a legal opinion but only pointing out what exists in the law. Although there isn't anything in the statutes about public smoking, there could other legal issues that arise if the town tried to impose a ban, Rice added.

Melissa Macphee said has a disabled daughter due to a transplant in April 2011. So, "for people to be smoking around her is not a good thing."

Macphee said she would favor a ban around playground equipment, but believes smoking would be permissible in designated areas.

"I don't think it should be taken away from them. Everybody has the right to do what they want," Macphee said. "But when children are involved, with playgrounds or schools, they should do it away from the kids."

Ray Baker said he doesn't smoke and would be in favor of a ban around playground equipment only.

"I think the ban probably is a good idea, if nothing other than to try and protect the kids more," Baker said. "I'm not totally convinced that second-hand smoke is what they say it is. My personal opinion is we're going too far protecting us from stuff that right now I think is still not proven. I'm not totally convinced that secondhand smoke is an issue.

Kim Harper said she is a smoker and would favor a ban at playgrounds. She said smoking should be allowed at public parks, as long as there are designated smoking areas.

Libby LeBlanc said she too favors the ban. LeBlanc is a former smoker who is grateful she gave up smoking 20 years ago.

"Secondhand smoke is not good for anybody, especially if you have to walk through the cloud of it and I'm a reformed non-smoker so I don't like it at all."

Dave Langlais, a smoker, had a simple solution: put up a "no smoking sign" at playgrounds. He said he wasn't in favor of a townwide ban on smoking."Pretty soon they'll be saying we can't smoke driving our vehicles.

Sue Morrison also favored a ban "when there are children around." She is a non-smoker.

Mike Kral favored banning smoking at playgrounds, parks and the dog park.

"I think they should ban smoking in public parks. Children shouldn't be exposed to that," he said.

Sue McFarland said, " I'm a smoker and I believe that they shouldn't be allowed to smoke around children.

Ed Smith, an ex-smoker, said, "I haven't had a cigarette in about 25 years. If someone else is outside and enjoying a cigarette, it it does bother me, I can walk away. There's got to be some give and take. If you're offended by smoke or have a health problem you can either ask the person to move a few feet to the right or left or you can do it. But to come out and make a law to say you can't smoke period is just ridiculous. That's just another right they are taken away from us."

Bill Rockwell said, "I'm in favor of it, I have kids. My wife and I don't smoke and we are teaching our children not to smoke, so I'm all in favor of it. Playgrounds are a priority, absolutely, and the other ones would have to be looked at according to what it is."

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