Editorial: Banning outdoor smoking goes too far

Smoking’s bad, no doubt about it. It’s bad for your health, it smells bad and it can leave an ugly mess in its wake. That said, a proposal that the city of Redmond consider banning smoking in some spots outdoors surely goes too far.

Smokers already have been driven from the workplace, from restaurants, from just about every public indoor space around. Soon, they will not be able to smoke in their own cars if their children are present. While we wish everyone who smokes would quit, we recognize that it remains a legal activity and, as such, people must be allowed to do it somewhere.

Redmond officials say they’re considering the ban, which might apply to some parks and downtown streets, in part because members of the public favor the idea and in part because of the mess smokers leave behind. Being the city employee or the volunteer charged with picking cigarette butts out of planters and off the ground is no fun, but it does raise a question.

Does the city have adequate ashtrays available on sidewalks and parks to make proper disposal of smoking materials convenient? If it doesn’t, then it effectively gives smokers no choice but to litter when the cigarette break is done.

There’s also some concern from merchants that smokers will linger in doorways and smoke will drift into their businesses. Oregon law already makes it illegal to smoke within 10 feet of the entrance to most business establishments, from restaurants to retail outlets to office buildings, however.

We agree that banning smoking in some areas would cut the number of smokers in those areas. Most people abide by the rules. We also believe that smoking bans during times of high fire danger make sense.

But for rule breakers, a smoking ban is likely to be a law without enforcement. Redmond police are busy enough without having to go after scofflaw smokers.

Make sure there are ashtrays available, yes. Post signs about smoking in doorways, yes. But a flat-out ban is too extreme.