Lileks: Park purity threatened by … scented mist?

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 7, 2014 - 3:13 PM

It’s only a matter of time before Minneapolis bans smoking in public parks. Nonsmokers don’t want to smell cigarette smoke. They never did, but now the smell of a heater is regarded as a violation of the social compact. It’s like swearing loudly, breaking wind and shouting “Heil Hitler”: You are free to do these things in your own house, but in public it marks you as a déclassé individual. That’s the prevailing view, and good luck arguing otherwise.

Perhaps there will be a compromise: a smoking section in the lakes, marked off by buoys in 5½ feet of water. There will be people who walk into the lake fully clothed and stand there with the water lapping at their chin. You could add sharks, and people would still go in the lake. Eh, my dad smoked for 40 years, and he never got bit by a shark.

The crazy part: The proposal would also ban e-cigs. There is no danger from secondhand water vapor, unless it is coming out of a nuclear reactor that suffered a core breach and you are trapped in a cooling tower. Imagine a boat in the middle of a city lake. The passenger is vaping on an electronic nicotine delivery system, the mist from which dissipates in the wind and does not insinuate its scented tendrils into any unwilling nostrils. This would be illegal.

You wouldn’t get ticketed, but they might send out an officer in a boat with a megaphone: Sir, please turn off your cigarette.

The proposed ordinance bans marijuana smoking, should it be legal someday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the final law permitted medical marijuana to be smoked in parks. Which means the people who were trying to quit tobacco cigs would use a scented e-cig insert that smelled like marijuana. And that’s where we are today:

The only way you’ll be able to inhale water vapor is to make the police think it’s weed.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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