Derry elected officials are discussing the possibility of banning smoking on town property, or at least on playgrounds. And again we face the prospect of the government regulating the behavior of the people because some of us have forgotten — or never learned — our manners.
Once upon a time, when many more Americans smoked, there was a phrase that commonly flowed from behind rows of nicotine-stained teeth. “Mind if I smoke?”
You don’t hear that phrase anymore. People still smoke, but the question is not asked. They just light up, even around strangers, the elderly, little kids. It’s their “right,” they seem to be telling everyone.
Smoking bans are sometimes a zealous overreach by penny-ante tyrants; and sometimes they are the exasperated response of good people tired of the disrespect shown to everyone by in-your-face smokers. The latter explains the current discussion in Derry.
Local mom Nicole Bump took her two children to Hood Park. The kids wanted to swing, but a child was on a swing, and the mom was there, smoking. Bump approached the town council. She wants a smoking ban on all town playgrounds — common decency enforced by town ordinance.
Councilor Al Dimmock said the town could ban smoking on all town property. That would be excessive. Smokers pay taxes, too, and they should be able to use the parks. But smoking on a playground?
No kid is going to get cancer from the mom whose cigarette smoke blows around the swing set. The exposure is too small. But children and non-smoking parents should not have to breathe the offensive fumes. That used to be understood. Now it takes a government regulation to enforce. How sad.