Forum editorial: Prohibit smoking in all parks

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.
All metro area communities, large and small, should follow the lead of Dilworth and Moorhead and ban smoking in public parks. Dilworth took the smart step last week. Moorhead parks have been smoke-free since 2011. The Fargo Park District has a limited ban that allows smoking 25 feet away from playgrounds. West Fargo allows smoking in parks.
Parks primarily are venues for families and children. Moreover, park officials champion healthy lifestyles. The sports activities that take place on park fields comport with fitness and health. Smoking should be anathema.
In addition to bans and partial bans in the metro, nearby cities that ban smoking in parks include Mayville, Kindred, Valley City, Cooperstown and Wahpeton, all in North Dakota. Dozens of Minnesota cities have bans in place.
While some smokers might see the closing off of more public spaces as a violation of their rights, that argument is nonsense. There remains a plethora of places where smokers can indulge their habit, as long as it does not threaten the health of others. The many voter-approved bans in place reflect recognition that smoking and secondhand smoke are health issues, not rights issues. Some smokers will debate that unassailable premise until they cough their lungs out, but as a matter of public policy the debate is over.
Therefore, the Fargo Park District should extend its limited ban to every square foot of park land, and West Fargo should ban smoking in every one of its beautiful, allegedly family-friendly parks.