THE COUNSELORíS CORNER

 

I am quite allergic to cigarette smoke.It has been that way for me from an early age, and for that reason, I have to avoid smoke if I donít want to suffer.With that in mind, however, I strongly disagree with a local ordinance passed in Rockville, Maryland.In this matter, the County Council voted to impose a ban on OUTDOOR SMOKING for publicly maintained sidewalks and parks.The vote to impose this ban was five to four.(This seems to be the controversial breakdown of significant votes these days.)

 

What I didnít realize is that Rockville is now the 61st city in the country which has a ban on outdoor smoking.

 

What does the mayor think?Mayor Al Muller weighed in on the subject, indicating his support for this measure, as he claimed we are talking about public health for those who suffer from asthma and have allergies.The mayor believes that people in those circumstances should not have to stay away from public sidewalks and parks.

 


Why do we live in such an ďall or nothingĒ period of time?How about some compromise here?What if half of each park were made non-smoking, and the other half be such that people could smoke to their heartsí content?I never quite understood why in this technological age, airplanes could not do better than put a curtain up between row twenty-five and twenty-six to distinguish between the non-smoking section and the smoking section.The curtain was a joke.If you were in row twenty-five, you were in for a long flight.For that matter, row twenty-four wasnít a whole lot better.With that in mind, while I understand why smoking was banned on airplanes flying within the United States, and from a selfish standpoint, I enjoy not having to deal with the smoke; that does not mean I think that was the best solution.I am a big believer in compromise, and in the Rockville, Maryland instance, I just donít get it.This is now being referred to as the ďtoughest outdoor smoking restriction in the nation.ĒIs that something to be so proud about?As a non-smoker, I appreciate it greatly when smokers are respectful, however, I think there is a significant difference between finding common ground and making the smoker feel like a pariah.

 

Yes, I donít want to be reduced to a coughing, wheezing, nose-blowing guy because someone is smoking in a less than considerate matter; however, we are talking about the outdoors here.Smokers who violate this law in Rockville are now looking at one hundred dollar fines.Apparently, smoking in Rockville is about to become an even more expensive habit than at present.

 


Reaction in Rockville has certainly not been one hundred percent favorable.Apparently, acts of civil disobedience are being planned, and the tobacco industry may well weigh in with a lawsuit.So here we are, a foolish law followed by a lawsuit that didnít have to be, clogging our already well-clogged court system.And I canít wait to read about the type of acts of civil disobedience that will be forthcoming.Are people going to dress up like cigarettes and picket the Mayorís office?Will there be a marathon chain-smoking session as smokers surround the Mayorís building and refuse to let him leave?I would suggest that this is what happens when people push for absolute-type laws that donít take the other side into account.I hope the people of Rockville, Maryland, find some common ground so that civil disobedience or lawsuits will not be necessary.