News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 10, 2012

EDITORIAL: Ban smoking in our parks

Healthful places should be free from toxic smoke

The Tribune-Star

---- — Ah, a brisk late fall day in the park.

Birds flying, squirrels scampering, joggers running, breezes blowing, playground equipment rocking with kids, cigarette smokers puffing.

The Terre Haute City Parks Department — and its Vigo counterparts — has a chance to eliminate the one of those that doesn’t fit the others in a park setting.

The topic arose at the city parks board meeting Nov. 28, when anti-smoking advocate Alia Hazel, of CHANCES for Indiana Youth, asked that all city park properties be made smoke-free.

Hazel made the inarguable point that parks exist, in large part, to encourage health — recreation, walking, running, playing — and that smoking is inconsistent with a healthy lifestyle.

Apparently, several other communities have made their parks smoke-free. In one community, Greenwood, a smoking opponent told an Indianapolis TV station she supported a smoking ban that became effective in early October because of “the effects of secondhand smoke, and you also don’t want to be setting a bad example in places where kids are.”

Other considerations are the litter from butts and crushed-out stogies, and the fire danger from a dropped or discarded cigarettes.

There’s no need to recite the evidence — overwhelming and never successfully refuted by smoking proponents — that secondhand smoke is toxically dangerous to living things. The debate has moved beyond that. The proof is solid.

So, the city parks board should, without much debate or prolonged study, ban smoking from all property it oversees. It doesn’t have to hold any public hearings, so a simple vote suffices.

And the Vigo County Parks Board should follow the city’s lead quickly.

Terre Haute and Vigo County parks are treasures. Removing smoking from those peaceful, healthful places will only enhance the parks’ values.