A COUNCIL has banned smoking in playgrounds, pools and parks - or smokers could face jail.Now, those for and against smoking bans will argue about the integrity or otherwise of passive smoking studies that led there - all of which were focussed exclusively on enclosed spaces - till they're blue in the face.
New York's Middletown City Council on Monday unanimously passed one of the toughest anti-smoking rules in the region, banning people from lighting up at all city playgrounds and pools, as well as two entire city parks mainly used by children and teenagers.
Violators could be imprisoned for up to 15 days.
The rules, passed by a resolution of the council in the Hudson Valley town 65 miles (104 km) from New York city, is viewed as a measure to protect public health and is intended to reduce the exposure of kids to second-hand smoke.
However, no-one but a lunatic can argue that there is any proven risk whatsoever from second hand smoke in a large public park, for the simple reason that - despite quixotic attempts - no evidence exists which points to it being so. Nor will there ever be any.
So to inflict a ban on smoking in the open air prior to any research indicating any possible harm is bad enough, but to attach the nuclear punishment of incarceration to it is bullying and bigotry. Pure and simple.
Middletown councillors can attempt to classify this move as being about health, but in reality it is the age old human trait of persecution. The marginalisation and denormalisation, with not even the remotest scientific or epidemiological reasoning for doing so, of a section of society classed as inferior for pursuing a legal activity.
One could reasonably argue that those promoting such a policy - and any who support its implementation - can fairly be termed, shall we say ... Nazi-esque?