Save all of us from ourselves

The town has confidence in us to use our handguns responsibly in public parks, and perhaps to use our cell phones responsibly on public roads (unless we are single or in a marriage not recognized by the state or are childless or orphaned), but not to make decisions in the best interest of health regarding tobacco use. A proposed ordinance in the consent agenda outlaws smoking in public parks, effective as soon as the town installs signs warning people that smoking in public parks is against the law.

No one can defend smoking as not being harmful to the user and others in the vicinity, anymore than someone can defend using a cell phone while driving, well, except if the user is in a state-recognized marriage, has children or at least one living parent, evidently. And in the spirit of Big Government, council evidently believes the smoking ban should pass, given that the item is in the Consent Agenda, not up for discussion as the ban on using cell phones while driving was.

So as long as the town supports Big Government, why not ban sodas, fried foods and salty snacks? They also are unhealthy for the users and others – health problems connected to obesity and high blood pressure negatively affect the health insurance premiums of everyone, even those who haven’t made a claim in years. As long as we’re spending the money to print signs banning smoking, why can’t we add soft drinks, French fries and Doritos to the list?

Tonight, in addition to deciding on the advisability of smoking in public parks, Town Council will have a second vote on whether to ban some drivers from using cell phones. Anytime I’ve driven on a major thoroughfare in town since the tie vote a few weeks ago, I’ve clocked how long between places to pull off to answer or return a phone call. Except for stopping at traffic lights, I’m never more than 15 seconds away from pulling into a parking lot or side street. Though we’d like to pretend that the only time we use our cell phones while driving is for medical or financial emergencies, more often than not it’s for the mundane – calling for clarification on whether the person who wrote “barbecue potato chips” on the shopping list meant Cajun, Carolina, Hickory Smoked or Honey.

If council members feel the need to pass a cell phone ban, the least they can do is remove the “traditional family” exemption. It would be healthier for everyone.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Terri Buckner

     /  March 26, 2012

    I fully support the smoking ban in public parks and wish they would include sidewalks too. The problem, as with the current campus and hospital ban, is enforcement. I’m not saying that campus/hospital police don’t enforce, but I’ve never seen it done. The times when I have reminded individuals of the ban, I’ve either been ignored or suffered an angry response. There is no comparison to smoking and fried foods. Fried foods negatively impact the eater; smoking impacts everyone in the surrounding area.

  2. Fred Black

     /  March 26, 2012

    Fried foods and smoking both have health ramifications, and we cannot forget what it costs the majority of us because of the poor health choices that people make.

  3. John Kramer

     /  March 26, 2012

    Glad to see the nanny state is so very “healthy” in Chapel Hill”.

  4. DOM

     /  March 26, 2012

    A vote for the local “traditional family call exception” cell ban is a vote for NC Amendment #1.

  5. Deborah Fulghieri

     /  March 26, 2012

    I do think a family-member exception to the cell phone ban is funny. After all, who can distract one more thoroughly than a family member? Who presses your buttons best?

  6. Terri Buckner

     /  March 26, 2012

    It’s a done deal. They passed it 5-4. No handhelds or wireless cell phones while driving in Chapel Hill, effective June 1. I believe it was Jon De Hart who said he wanted to get the first ticket.

  7. Road Warrior

     /  March 26, 2012

    Cell Phone Ban is unenforceable. Nice to know in a budget crunch and an election year, we do something stupid to fire up the right.

    When are my fellow Liberals going to stop being so strategically dumb?

    In other news, as a former smoker, I hate smoking in parks. There are kids playing and it is not healthy.

  8. Jon DeHart

     /  March 26, 2012

    I do indeed and plan to appeal it.

  9. Joe

     /  March 27, 2012

    “as a former smoker, I hate smoking in parks. There are kids playing and it is not healthy.”

    I’m no statistician, but I’ve got to bet that the danger from a person driving while talking has got to be many, many magnitudes greater than the danger from a smoker, outside.