Monday, March 3, 2008


I've got a problem.

I'm pretty much vehemently anti-smoking.

I'm also pretty much vehemently pro beach. That's one of the major reasons I live in Naples. I love the beach.

But for some reason, I really don't like the proposal by Naples to ban smoking on all beaches and surrounding areas.

Since moving here some time ago, I've noticed that a lot more people seem to smoke down here than did up north. I figure it has to do with the age of the population down here. The older generation, the WWII and Korean War folks, smokes. A lot. (Although they shouldn't.) Hell, back then, they were told it was good for them. Doctors endorsed certain brands.

It's the younger folks who are getting smarter and are quitting. Most of the smokers I see down here are of the retired variety. And there are a LOT of those retired types living in Naples. I hope to be one of them some day. (I hope to be retired, not a smoker.)

That said, when I go to the beach, I definitely do not want to sit next to a smoker and smell their nasty old smoke.

At the same time, I can't see denying the use of the beach to such a large part of our population. The beach should be for everyone. Even smokers. There's a lot of beach out there.

Can't we find some kind of compromise? Can't we say, smokers, you can go over here to this little bitty area and non-smokers, this great big area is for you? Or perhaps set aside an area in the 'defined perimeter' of the beach and say, OK smokers, if you need a weed, here's where you can light up. Here's where you can go in the great out-of-doors to smoke and not bother or offend non-smokers.

I fought hard for a smoking ban in my old community up north. But that was an indoor ban. And we won.

But the beaches, I've noticed, are outside.

It's not a right to smoke. And it's not appropriate to smoke anywhere where it could offend or harm the health of others.

But when it comes to our most prized possession - our beaches - can't we all just get along?

See my dilemma?

And so it goes.