RANT: Straight out of the box I'll let you know that I don't like cigarettes. But then, I am an ex-smoker so it is practically mandatory for me to start hacking whenever I take in a lungful of second-hand smoke. Otherwise, I might remember how much I used to adore the joy that only a cup of coffee and that first cigarette in the morning can bring, the heady release of having a nicotine fit, the extra break from work and the camaraderie of going outside and hanging with other smokers, the sweet excuse for my innate grouchiness ... sorry, I digress.
The point is I was one of the happy campers when the smoking ban was enforced in East Greenwich bars and restaurants. And I was one of the outraged ones when the ban on lighting up at state beaches became voluntary as opposed to mandatory (that really works – I voluntarily opt to eat less ice cream on a daily basis but, gee, an addict’s gotta do what an addict’s gotta do).
This is all an unnecessarily long lead in to my real rant – after a day chained to the desk, my husband and I went for stroll and a breath of fresh air in Scalloptown Park the other night. Instead, we got caught in the noxious cloud of some guy’s cigar fumes.
I don’t think laws that snuff out public smoking are a swipe at personal freedom any more than prohibitions against drunk driving, littering or making too much noise are. You can't have sex in a public park, you usually can't drink booze in a public park, you can’t throw your garbage on the ground in a public park, you can’t blast your music on full amp speakers in a public park (you can’t even do that one in your backyard without a permit), you can't kill babies in a public park ... there are lots of things you can't do in public. The way I see it, do what you want in the privacy of your own home (except the music thing – if someone [read one of your nice neighbors] complains, you will be shut down and yes, I speak from personal experience here), but the only way a civilization can function as such – i.e., civilized – is to be mindful of those around you. “Personal freedom” is all well and good, but there is also such a thing as “public responsibility."
I know that state Rep Richard Morrison is working to extend the state law to include making smoking a no-no in public places. More power to him.
Now if someone would introduce a bill to limit cell phone use. Or at least tax people every time they say, “Can you hear me now?”
RAVE: So . Hello? This is a problem?
Okay, before you jump down my throat, I should say in the best of all possible worlds, I don’t want the signs either. But these are not utopian times, so why shouldn’t we get some hard cash for what we are already giving away for free? In the course of one day going from my house to downtown and over to the west side of Route 2, I have seen signs for pet grooming, mosquito control, Ron Paul, eggs for sale (mea culpa), driveway paving, snow removal (apparently jumping the gun for next season), Ron Paul again, summer camps, landscaping services, house painting companies, Ron Paul yet again (!), sailing classes, and yard sales that took place several months ago.
There is no reason that East Greenwich needs to look like Route 2 in Warwick. The decision could include final say on the look and content of the advertising and an out clause allowing the town to terminate the contract before the lease expires. I am sure there is some legal wording for this that makes it all kosher.
On the other hand, I guess we could just raise taxes to make some extra revenue for the town. That always works.