According to the linked CBS news article of October 17, 2007, the Chicago Park District has banned smoking at all public parks, beaches, and playgrounds, invoking the usual "protecting the children" argument.
Notice that any time any nanny-stater wants to ban something, he invokes the chillins'.
As far as I can tell, or read, this ban has not been rescinded. If anyone out there can tell me otherwise, please write.
I was not long ago considering this as I walked down Sheridan Road, wondering if the next drunken driver to jump the curb in his carbon-belching land yacht was going to pin me to the wall and leave me dead, or as good as dead and with $498,000 worth of hospital bills to pay.
Since second-hand smoke in a large, outdoor space is so deleterious to the health of children and other living things, might I ask when we will ban automobiles in the city? Will we forbid transporting children in cars?
Also, what about barbeque fuel? How about natural gas piped into homes to light stoves? These are all potent sources of pollution, as well as being general safety and fire hazards, yet I have heard no one propose banning gas stoves in homes containing children, or banning grilling in our parks, even though I personally find the smell of the fuel obnoxious.
After all, if we are going to ban one hazard, why shouldn't we ban anything that might be hazardous, especially to children. That would mean getting rid of liquor, bars, cars, buses (diesel fumes), outdoor grilling, all appliances powered by natural gas, all household paints and solvents containing any substance that produces toxic fumes, many household cleaners, and multitudes of other substances in daily use.
I'm not going to defend smoking and I'm not claiming it's not unhealthy. I still do it, unfortunately. However, I grew up with one smoker and one heavy drinker, not the same person, in the 50s, an era in which there was an ash tray in every medical office and you could even smoke in most college classrooms. I took little harm from my mother's cigarettes,. but my father's drinking destroyed our lives in every way.
Even before the ban of 2006, there were hundreds of restaurants and bars in Chicago that banned smoking, which a business should be free to do. A business also ought to be free to permit it, and if a person finds the smoke offensive, s/he can surely go elsewhere.