Portland police issue first smoking ban citation
Jul 10, 2013
Portland police say they are serious about enforcing the new city ordinance which bans smoking in public places, including parks.
Smoking in Portland is getting harder to do
Some say the city is overstepping in limiting places where smokers can light up.
June 09. 2013
By JOE LAWLOR
But Klepeis said that no one has measured the long-term risks of secondhand smoke outdoors. He said there is obviously less risk in a relatively empty park where one or two people are smoking, versus smoking at a fairground where many smokers have gathered. Klepeis said that there are other good reasons to ban smoking in outdoor areas, such as preventing cigarette butt litter, the risk of children eating or licking cigarette butts, and the enjoyment of public spaces.
“We don’t have the right to pollute someone else’s air,” Klepeis said.
Judie O’Malley, a spokeswoman for USM, said banning smoking outdoors is not just about secondhand smoke concerns, but also the health of students and employees.
“We’re not the secret police,” O’Malley said. “We simply don’t want them to exercise their habit on our property.”
Avital said, however, that she pays money to go to school and live on campus but has to walk 15 minutes off campus to legally smoke.
“It’s very impractical,” Avital said.
Michael McFadden, a spokesman with Citizens’ Freedom Alliance, a smokers’ rights organization, said that smokers are becoming a stigmatized group.
“It’s like smokers have become the dirty people, and we don’t want to see them,” McFadden said, describing the way nonsmokers often characterize smokers. “If they want to (smoke), they have to do it behind the Dumpster. They shouldn’t be around the good people.
“It’s gone way overboard.”
No-smoking laws have expanded over the past 30 to 35 years, starting with elevators, airplanes and workplaces, and then growing to include restaurants, bars and outdoor cafes. Now, no-smoking laws are moving into new spaces with outdoor bans.
O’Malley said that she believes the bans could help further reduce the rate of smoking in general.
“It’s for the greater good of the world,” O’Malley said.
The number of smokers has declined over the decades, and with it, their clout in influencing public policy. There was no organized opposition to Portland’s new restrictions.
More than 40 percent of adults smoked in the 1960s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. That has declined to about 20 percent in recent years. With 21 percent of its population smoking, Maine is close to the U.S. average, according to the Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Maine website.
Klepeis said he often speaks at public hearings in California to limit places where people can smoke, and while the non-smokers usually come out in force, the “smokers are nowhere to be seen.”
McFadden agrees that smokers are resigned to the fact that more restrictions on their ability to light up are inevitable.
“Nobody likes to be the one standing in front of the bandwagon, and saying, ‘Stop!'” McFadden said.