Designated smoking areas better than ban

Unquestionably, members of Cortland City Council have their hearts in the right place for considering a ban on smoking in that city’s parks, but we think they should think twice before a final vote next week that would place even more restrictions on a society already overrun with regulations.

Mayor Jim Woofter, who supports the measure, has said the goal of this smoking ban would be to protect the health of the public, and council President Deidre Petrosky said she is especially concerned about people exposing children to tobacco smoke, particularly near the parks, splash pad, playground areas or at the ballfields.

We get that, and certainly, no one denies the proven dangers of second-hand smoke — particularly for youngsters who want to enjoy the splash pad or playground on a summer day, for instance.

But consider this. The park is meant to be enjoyed by all — including visitors who may enjoy taking in a pipe or a cigarette. Even Ohio law, which bans smoking inside public buildings, allows for smoking areas on outdoor patios in restaurants and bars.

Before council moves to create more regulations on what is scheduled for a third reading at Monday’s council meeting, we suggest they consider an amendment to the legislation that would create tobacco-free zones or establishing designated smoking areas in the parks, rather than banning smoking across the board.

Such limits could protect against second-hand smoke while still allowing smokers to enjoy the outdoors in the community park that their tax dollars also support.