When the nanny statists behind the anti-smoking crusade were making their arguments, “second hand smoke” was the crux of their argument. Because smoking could potentially impact the health around you, it is ok to ban it in public spaces and even private property open to the public.
And they’ve largely won that argument, both nationally here in North Dakota. But the goal of these neo-prohibitionists wasn’t ever really limiting the health impact to those who use tobacco. It was always about eradicating tobacco use. And we know that now as they crusaders turn their eyes to chewing tobacco.
The Grand Forks Park Board wants to be rid of chewing tobacco in their parks not because chewing tobacco is unhealthy for anyone other than the user but because they don’t want the user to be unhealthy in their parks.
Grand Forks outdoor parks have areas where smoking is banned, courtesy of Measure 8 in November. Grand Forks Park Board Commissioner Molly Soeby wants to extend that ban to all varieties of tobacco.
Commissioner Jay Panzer responded to Soeby’s proposal at Tuesday’s board meeting with a big grin and the words: “This is a ginormous can of worms.”
After flashing a smile acknowledging Panzer’s assessment, Soeby argued that chewing tobacco is damaging because it’s an unhealthy habit in what should be a healthy environment.
“We look at parks as a way to make a community healthier,” she said. “There’s no way tobacco makes us healthier. Our community is becoming more healthy and it realizes what a problem tobacco is.”
So what’s next? You can’t eat your fast food lunch in the park either? There’s no way a greasy burger and fries with a large soda is healthy for you. Maybe we should ban that too. And Starbucks coffee (unhealthy), candy (unhealthy) and sunbathing too.
Heck, we should build big domes over our parks so nobody gets skin cancer from being out in the sun.
Or how about we recognize that individuals have a right to live their lives as healthily, or unhealthily, as they want.