Council Hears Opposition to Outdoor Smoking Ban

Prohibition. The Spanish Inquisition. Book burning and “yellow stars.”
These were all “bad ideas” brought out by community member Mike Gill in regard to banning smoking on town property. Gill spoke on the subject at the Dec. 3 Town Council meeting. Councilors agreed to explore the town’s options in an upcoming meeting.
Gill spoke in response to a public forum two weeks ago, in which Derry parent Nicole Bump asked for smoking to be prohibited in town parks and children’s playgrounds. Bump had cited statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding secondhand smoke.

Following his list of “good ideas that turned bad,” Gill said he did his own research on secondhand smoke. He listed advice from the CDC, including: don’t allow anyone to smoke near your child, don’t allow smoking in your home or car, choose a smoke-free day care, and don’t patronize restaurants that allow smoking. The last is almost a non-issue, he added, as most restaurants don’t allow smoking.
The fifth guideline was, “Teach your child to stay away from secondhand smoke.”
These are all good ideas, Gill said. But it’s not a good idea to have the Town Council put an outright ban on outdoor smoking.
“No one can prove to me that breathing smoke in fresh air has the same effect as breathing carbon monoxide from the fumes of a car,” Gill said.
Gill said several times that he is a non-smoker. But, he said, if he were pushing his grandchild on a swing and someone complained, “I would tell her to go somewhere else.”
This is a “stand-your-ground” state, Gill added, and he doesn’t want to see the government interfere in one more thing.
Council member Neil Wetherbee said he disagreed with Gill’s statements, but supported putting the smoking issue on the agenda for discussion. “Let’s see if and how we can ban smoking, what our options are, where we stand as a Council,” he said.
“I’ll go along with Neil,” Councilor Al Dimmock, a former smoker, said. “We need to do something. According to the charter, we can make that ordinance.”
Wetherbee cautioned that he wasn’t taking a public position. “I want to explore all our options,” he said.
Dimmock said, “I don’t want to tell someone they can’t smoke. But not around children.”