Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Smokers Frustrated by Adoption of Outdoor Bans

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Smokers Frustrated by Adoption of Outdoor Bans

Article excerpt

Sandra Smith and Tom Greico, co-workers who take smoking breaks together outside their Woodland Park company, are used to the usual grumbles from passersby, often far from the path of smoke, coughing loudly and complaining of the smell.

As three more North Jersey municipalities -- Garfield, Secaucus and North Bergen -- passed ordinances this week designating parks and recreation facilities smoke-free zones, Smith expressed frustration. "We're pariahs already. It shouldn't be bothering anyone smoking outside," said the Carlstadt resident, who is a senior manager of operations with a pack-a-day smoking habit.

Laws prohibiting smoking in workplaces, airplanes and restaurants are fair for the sake of public health, many smokers admit. It's the latest round of ordinances that outlaw smoking outdoors that has some crying foul.

"We're no longer talking about respecting the rights of others from secondhand smoke," said George Koodray, the Montville-based assistant director of Citizens Freedom Alliance, a national smokers' rights organization. "Now it's a matter of trying to dictate the behavior of others we don't approve of. Even non-smokers should be offended by this."

The number of towns that ban smoking in public parks and recreational areas is 15 in Bergen County, 12 in Passaic County and four in Hudson County, according to Global Advisors Smoke-free Policy, an advocacy group. Passaic County parks, with the exception of the Preakness Valley Golf Course, are also smoke-free. The three newest bans mandate fines for violations. Officials in Ridgewood, Westwood and Fair Lawn are considering bans as well.

The medical effects of secondhand smoke are not a clear-cut issue. Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco researcher, professor at Boston University's School of Public Health and supporter of smoke-free workplace rules, has argued in a variety of publications that anti- smoking groups are overplaying the health risks of minimal exposure to secondhand smoke. …

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