Councilors want smokers to butt out at parks, beaches
By adamg on Wed, 02/09/2011 - 8:57am
Councilors Felix Arroyo (at large) and Sal LaMattina (East Boston, North End, Charlestown) say it's time to ban smoking at both city and state recreation sites in Boston.
The two say second-hand smoke poses too much of a health risk to other park goers and that "careless smokers who choose to litter their used cigarette butts threaten the environmental integrity and cleanliness of our cherished public spaces."
The city council considers their request for a hearing on the issue today.
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
How does the city council think they can enforce this city regulation at DCR beaches?
I have my doubts over whether they will (or can) enforce this anywhere, but they certainly have no jurisdiction over what goes on at a state park.
Is this just another in a long line of issues that the city council chooses to waste their time with? Seems like it is...
The city wouldn't have the authority to decide that anyway
as to what goes on at DCR beaches.
What about the Esplanade?
It is also a state park. I can't recall if there are other state parks within the city limits of Boston that are not along the beach, harbor, or Charles and Neponset Rivers.
Stony Brook Reservation
Which also includes some more active recreational land, such as a ballfield and a swimming pool (for that matter, what about the pool at Cleveland Circle?).
And isn't the new pathway along the Neponset from Mattapan into Hyde Park (and the land around the Martini Shell) state owned?
Felix Arroyo was the coucilor who spearheaded snow shoveling
law reform in Boston that levies fines on the landowner if they haven't completed snow removal within (what is it?) 3 or 6 hours after snowfall ends?
The law levies the fine IF A NEIGHBOR drops a dime, otherwise there appears to be no consequence for non-compliance. As you have seen for yourself, results are inconsistent. You can walk on a clean walk for half a block, then skate on an icy one before climbing over a snowbank and walking through he snow in front of a home that doesn't shovel. If the city is not going to enforce (or enforce haphazardly) the law, it is not going to be met with compliance and thus, it will (has) fail(ed).
While we shovel our sidewalks for ourselves and our neighbors under penalty of fine for non-compliance, we also pay as taxpayers for shoddy, incomplete snow removal from the streets we live on and drive on.
One can call and request improved snow removal from your street but why are these contractors (who are getting paid by us) not subject to fines for inadequate shoddy work?
For example, they usually plow just the middle of the street and leave large snowbanks 6-8 feet from the curb. Even when you remove all cars from the road before the storm they do not plow to the curb without 3 or 4 phone calls to the Mayor's office.
Why is it considered a good solution that landowners are subject to fine for shoddy work (that they don't get paid for) when contractors are not subject to fines for shoddy work (they do get paid for)?
My point is that Felix Arroyo is big on ideas and small on solutions. And his big ideas are a pain in the ass for everyone who lives here.
Arroyo is not alone. He, Consalvo and Menino are all in favor of levying big fines on residents for non-compliance without one hint of concern for equal enforcement.
Consalvo wants to put a lein on your home for non-payment of citations for improper restraint of pit bulls (to do this the state legislature had to approve) and Menino wants to put a lien on your home for unpaid citations for improper lawn or shrub care, never mind that enforcement is neighbor-driven and not equal.
So now Arroyo wants to fine smokers in public parks and he feels its justified because of secondhand smoke. Just let that sink in. Smoking is not illegal. Is he really proposing this out of concern for people afflicted by second hand smoke in public parks?
As a former smoker, I do find it irritating when someone is smoking cigarettes upwind from me. So I move if I can and if I can't I ask them if they could be more considerate with their smoke.
Our city has to realize that their "FINE UNTIL IT HURTS" strategy suffers from unequal and therefore inequitable enforcement. Until they figure that out their efforts to instigate behaviour change as part of a social contract will continue to fail. I can't tell you how far away they are right now from understanding that.
Back to snow removal. Universal Hub has done a great job highlighting all the places in the city that need shoveling to accommodate safe foot traffic but which are not adjacent to a resident-owned property and therefore not covered under the Felix Arroyo law. These unshoveled walks only demonstrate the ineffectiveness of city government. When they cant do what they require of citizens, they lose their credibility.
I myself got fined for not shoveling my front walk after a .5 - 1" snowfall last winter. I shoveled after I returned from work instead of before so the snow was matted but I shoveled what was loose and got a ticket the next day regardless. I can't tell you how pissed off I was to get a fine over nothing and at other times walk to and from the commuter rail station over unshoveled walks with 6-12" inches of snow.
There are problems with enforcement, equal enforcement and negative reinforcement.
What should City Council be working on instead of thinking up new ways to fine residents for social behaviors?
All parks along the Neponset, Charles, and Boston Harbor are owned by the state. The city can't ban anything there, let alone smoking.
Southwest Corridor is a state park
Never realized that until I followed your link.
Which leads to the interesting anomaly of SWC Park being patrolled by the State Police, not Boston Police, even though it runs right behind BPD HQ.
If it's a city law isn't it
If it's a city law isn't it enforceable anywhere within city limits, regardless of who owns the land/park? Cities can enforce speed limits on interstate, right? Isn't a law a law, no matter who owns the property it's broken on--
If the city decided to allow open containers of alcohol in public, the state could still not allow open containers on state beaches or vice versa.
State criminal statues are enforcable everywhere while the DCR has thier own ordinances as does the city.
That's the opposite of what he's saying
I agree with the scenario you present. Similarly, the city can have a law allowing open container but I can have a policy that nobody drinks in my backyard. However, if the city has a law saying no open containers at back yard barbecues, aren't I compelled to comply? See for, example, laws regarding drug use on private property.
Yea you would have to comply
But like all laws stuff rolls down hill. States cannot make laws which conflict with federal laws, and cities cannot make laws which conflict with state laws. I do not believe cities or towns have the right to regulate private alcohol consumption at private residences.
And as you mention, the use of drugs is illegal anywhere and this is outlined in the statute. Smoking, drinking and other public order offenses are decided by cities and towns.
This is increasingly
This is increasingly tangential to the initial topic i guess, but it's really interesting.....
Are municipal laws about handheld calls/texting enforceable on state-owned roads in that municipality? If Boston became a "dry" town (ala Rockport until recently) would merchants who rented space at Logan or the Transportation Building be exempt?
It IS Fascinating To Discuss
We all know that the prohibition of something by a larger governmental entity trumps a freedom granted by a smaller governmental entity. Witness the federal prosecution of marijuana growers and sellers in California, for instance. But, what we're looking at here is the reverse: Does a freedom granted (or, not limited) by the larger entity trump the prohibition of the smaller entity? Does it trump it in some instances, as Pierce asks, or in all, or not at all?
Anyone of our lawyers have actual case law to cite?
The texting laws are state laws and it is illegal to text while driving on any public way in the Commonwealth. This public way element is found in basically every motor vehicle law (speeding, stop sign, illegal turns, etc). A public way would include Newbury St, Commonwealth Ave., Rt 128 and the Mass Pike, or the roads at the airport where the public is allowed to drive. Basically any street in the state where the public has access.
Sometimes there are issues where cities and towns can apply for home rule petitions which basically say they can ammend certain state laws. For instance, the fine for jaywalking in the state is $1 and no city or town can charge more than that. Cities and towns can petition for home rule with the state though in order to change that fine or even the law itself.
Alcohol laws are tricky and there are probably hundreds of pages of state statutes and city ordinances which involve this issue. I'm pretty sure the airport still has to follow MA law in terms of drinking age, ID's and that stuff, while the transportation building would also have to apply for alcohol licenses in some sort of official process.
i know texting/driving is a
i know texting/driving is a state thing here, i guess i was being more hypothetical... I know in other states there are towns that have enacted bans against texting/talking while driving, and just curious how that would square. As for Massachusetts though, are you saying that Boston would have to apply for home rule to ban driving while talking, for example? Is home rule difficult to obtain?
Yes they would need a home rule petition.
It is a political process that involves votes (2/3 from the Governors council or something?) I believe.
I think an ordinary citizen can petition as well if they wanted to in some towns.
Can they ban Dunkin' Donuts drinkers, then, too? Because careless Dunkin' Donuts customers who choose to litter their used styrofoam and plastic coffee cups threaten the environmental integrity and cleanliness of our cherished public spaces.
DD cups are the worst
I have worked at the Charles river cleanup days the last couple of years, and the DD cups are the worst- much much worse than cigarette butts- they break into little pieces and you can never pick them all up, but they also don't really degrade- the edge of the river is all little "pebbles" of formerly white (and orange) styrofoam pieces.
Speak for yourself
I know DD cups can be more than a handful, but I wouldn't want anything less.
what a wonderful attitude
"Screw the world, I'm important!"
I just find they're better at holding more milk than the rest.
What a nice pair
You must be new here
Welcome to the Internet. We hope you enjoy your stay.
Did you hear a whooshing sound just now?
Because a joke just went sailing over one of our heads. Could have been mine, but I didn't hear anything...
You need to get the BRA to keep the DD cups under control.
The odd part...
...is that the BRA is full of dicks...I think someone is sartorially dyslexic.
Agree. I've done the Charles
Agree. I've done the Charles River cleanup, and both butts and DD cups are the WORST bits of trash. Ugh.
I can not lie
I like big butts too.
FOUL! That had to be a set-up. Too good to just get lobbed out there unintentionally.
Why don't they just ban the
Why don't they just ban the sale of cigarettes entirely? That would curtail smoking in public places a lot more effectively than an unenforceable ban.
The only addiction stronger than that of nicotine is a government's addiction to a constant stream of tax revenue. Ban smoking, and they'll need to get their money fix somewhere else, and the next group they single out might be a little harder to turn public opinion against than the smokers.
Well, there's an easy way around that.
Just stop people from doing their shopping in New Hampshire. That way, the sales tax would provide an exponentially larger amount of revenue.
You Can Try Forbidding People From Doing Things In Another State
But I have to believe it will never work.
Your law enforcement has no jurisdiction, and their law enforcement has better things to do than enforce your laws. If you try to enforce the law via searches coming back across the border, you'll spend far more on manpower and equipment than you'll make on either taxes or fines.
New Hampshire is the Answer, for the Legislature
Cool image of a Mass State Rep's car, parked at a NH liquor store, a few months after he voted to add a sales tax to booze sold in his home state:
How do you know he voted for it?
Was the vote unanimous, or do you know which state rep the car actually belonged to?
I Believe The Vote On That Was Recorded, Ron
I may be mistaken, but I'm fairly certain there was a roll call.
Ron, google the story...
You call that "easy"? I'd love to hear your implementation plan on how to enforce this.
I just heard Felix on the radio discussing the proposed ban, and when pressed about exactly where smoking would be banned, he was very vague. The Common? Public Garden? His response was along the lines of "I'll leave that up for discussion".
FWIW, as much as I dislike smoking, I don't believe in regulating it outdoors.
Preventing people from shopping in another state is called "restraint of interstate trade", explicitly forbidden in the US constitution.
Prohibition is never the answer.
The best answer is to tax it just under where it would make sense to start up a black market for the stuff.
Smoking, because of public campaigns and the huge taxes, is at an all time low in 50 years. AND you still have the complete freedom and choice to smoke if you wanted to. You just don't get to throw you negative externalities onto others anymore (smoke pollution, trash, an higher health costs)
Score one for the government.
What other product legally on the market not only kills the user but the people around the user? Cigarettes are a time-lapse hand grenade. Other products get banned for far less. Sadly, I think the states are dependent on the tax revenue at this point and the tobacco lobby is still pretty strong.
Art Garfunkel's solo album
The second-hand smoke issues with outdoor smoking in open spaces are not supported by the science. The only places that second hand smoke from outdoor smoking has been shown to matter is in crowded areas, and areas where there are sidewalk cafes in narrow alleyways or streets where most patrons are smoking. I would wager that traffic emissions are a larger health threat in any given urban park than secondhand tobacco smoke.
The litter issue is considerable, but difficult to enforce.
I do have to say I enjoyed seeing a Portland, OR cop enforcing the law with some git by making him pick up his lit ciggy after he hurled it into the street. "But its raining!". "Yeah, but it's littering, too. Either pick it up or its a $300 fine". I consider that value for my tax money.
The trend seems to be to
The trend seems to be to outlaw cigarettes and legalize marijuana. Can anyone explain to me why this makes sense?
At a minimum?
If a "cigarette" were made from home-grown wild tobacco and hand wrapped and smoked, it wouldn't be nearly as big of a problem for everyone involved than the mass-produced chemical sticks the corporations call "cigarettes" these days (the formaldehyde gives it that thick rich flavor). So, your question is loaded.
Let RJ Reynolds produce Joe Camel Cool Joints the same way they formulate cigarettes and you'll see more of the same health problems. Also, when was the last time you met someone who smoked "2 packs of joints a day".
Usage and corporate greed have made the two distinctly different in usage and subsequent health damage.
While I don't advocate banning tobacco ...
1) pot isn't extremely physiologically addictive like tobacco is - ask a former heroin addict what habit is harder to kick sometime. Nicotine is just that bad.
2) pot does not cause the same damage to health and society that tobacco does
3) legalizing pot would make it LESS available to minors, not more, since a smoke shop or liquor store actually cares who they sell to.
4) I don't see snow piles covered in roaches, do you? How about burned down condo buildings and wildfires from lit joint throwers? Pot isn't treated with chemicals to help it burn longer like cigarettes are.
If marijuana is someday fully legalized, smoking it would still be subject to all the restrictions that exist for tobacco smoking -- not allowed in subway cars, airplanes, theatres, restaurants, bars, etc.