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Board of Directors Considering Banning Smoking at Public Events

Should the town adopt a policy to ban smoking at outdoor events on town property?

Patch archives.
Patch archives.

When the Manchester Board of Directors met earlier this week they discussed establishing a policy that would ban or restrict smoking at town sponsored or co-sponsored outdoor events.

Some directors seemed in favor of implementing such a policy for health or personal reasons, while others said any such policy would be intrusive and cumbersome to enforce. 

“People have a right to breath clean air, not the right to smoke,” said Lisa P. O’Neill, a Democratic member of the board who said she personally suffers from migraines whenever she is in the vicinity of tobacco smoke.

But Mark Tweedie, a Republican member of the board, said he would support some sort of a policy of putting up signs in public parks or at town sponsored events asking smokers to be courtesy and respectable of others and their surroundings; Tweedie said he thought an all out ban would be intrusive to personal liberties.

“I can certainly understand something like that having a designated area for it,” Tweedie said. “It’s taking rights from people, really. I couldn’t support it.”

Deputy Mayor Jay Moran, a Democrat, said he thought it would be prudent for the town to establish some sort of a policy at outdoor public events on town property, much the way smoking indoors is now regulated almost everywhere.

“I think this is very reasonable to set a policy for town sponsored events,” Moran said.

But Cheri Pelletier, a Republican member of the board, said she thought a ban would be difficult to enforce and would not entirely solve the issue.

“If we ban it in parks, they will be on the sidewalks,” Pelletier said.  “It’s not enforceable at the end of the day.” 

No decision on a policy was reached during the meeting, but it appears that this is not the last time that board members will discuss this issue.

Jim Quaglia December 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM
While people certainly have the need and the right to breathe clean air, they also have the right to smoke unless otherwise restricted through an ordinance or a ban. As a non smoker (quit in 2006), I would appreciate a total smoking ban throughout the Town. However, I also respect the rights of others to smoke if they choose to do so. Now comes the challenge! How do you satisfy both groups and come to some sort of common ground. I think the need for common sense really needs to shine! We have over the years restricted smoking indoors for various reasons. I am sure that did not happen over night and took some respect for others rights to finally happen. I think that can work utilizing the thoughts of Directors Moran and Tweedie. Maybe you set aside an area at an outdoor event as a smoking area and make announcements at the event pointing that area out. Or maybe you restrict all smoking at the immediate area of the event and people that feel the need to smoke would have to go outside of that immediate area. I believe that most people when reminded to please respect the rights of those around them at these types of events will comply. Will there be a few that will dig in their heels... probably. But that is where the event security can be called to take care of business. Would this all happen seamlessly overnight... probably not. But you can't stop until you start! So it is a very good idea both for the comfort and the health of all of the folks at the event to restrict smoking. We should not get held up by worrying whether or not it will be 100% enforceable.

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