Smoking strikes out

Outdoor-sports ban: Carroll County clears the air for youth events, setting healthy example.

January 26, 2001

SMOKING BANS at outdoor-sports events are becoming more common, so it was no giant leap for the Carroll County commissioners to impose that restriction at all youth Recreation Council contests.

What is unusual is that last week's action seems to be the first such broad ban in the Baltimore region, where varying prohibitions on smoking have focused on the workplace, hospitals, school grounds, bars and restaurants.

The rule presumes -- rightly -- that secondhand smoke is just as offensive to people watching and playing sports.

The ban, endorsed by the 18 Carroll recreation councils and the county commissioners, sets a good example for young people against the use of tobacco products.

While there may be questions about the degree of toxicity of breathing secondhand tobacco smoke, it's clear that many asthmatics and others with lung problems can suffer direct, serious health effects.

"People have a choice, and they still do -- just not around my kids," commented Joe Bach, president of the Carroll County Area Recreation Councils, which runs events for over 30,000 people.

Enforcement of the rule will be left to coaches and volunteers, not to county employees. Some coaches are uneasy about the responsibility for policing conduct in the stands.

We expect common sense and reason will prevail in most cases. Talbot County has had a similar sports-event ban for years. Havre de Grace Little League rules restrict smoking to the outer borders of baseball fields.

Recreation programs in other counties are looking at the issue. Carroll County should be commended for stepping up to the plate.

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