April 3, 2013
When I sit in the office, the smokers relax across the street in their own special place. This is a change. Not long ago, the smokers sat beside me, typing and puffing as carcinogens floated through the air we shared.
Starting Thursday, those who smoke will have their own special place outside Security Service Field, home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Comfortable chairs and plentiful ashtrays await smokers, but notice I said their special place is outside the stadium.
Cigarette smoke no longer will infiltrate the stadium, which is encouraging news for anyone with lungs. Security Service is now smoke-free.
Sky Sox president Tony Ensor said he was “excited” by the decision, and the tone of his voice confirmed his happiness.
“We listened to our fans, and we have such a strong family audience that we knew this was the right time for us to do this,” Ensor said.
Last season, smokers were given a small, fenced area inside the stadium to indulge their habit, but Ensor and anyone paying attention could tell there was flaw to this plan.
“You can’t control smoke,” he said. “It would go anywhere it wanted in the ballpark.”
That’s the truth, unfortunately. Cigarette smoke has this way of finding you. It’s inexplicably aggressive.
I realize smokers feel embattled. A few days ago, I ate dinner with a longtime employee of a tobacco company. She immediately announced she did not smoke. She did, however, want to gripe about the restrictions placed on smokers.
A March Madness game was on the restaurant’s TV, which meant we watched an array of advertisements for various levels of vice, including kidney-threatening booze and waistline-expanding fast food.
Why, she kept asking, aren’t we attacking these perils with the same fervor we attack cigarettes?
She asked a valid question, but only kind of. Clearly, cigarettes are not our lone health problem, and I realize smokers who adore baseball will ask why tobacco chewing remains in major league dugouts even as cigarettes are banished from stadiums.
Chewing and boozing and gobbling hamburgers are all perilous, and all beloved American pursuits, but smoking delivers a distinct threat.
The Surgeon General’s report stated second-hand smoke causes disease and premature death to those who do not smoke and exposes children to increased risk for ear problems and severe asthma.
The report also stated “there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke.”
This, by the way, is a partial list of the perils. And, remember, smoke goes where smoke wants to go.
Ensor wants smokers to feel welcome at Sky Sox games. He realizes many loyal baseball fans are also loyal to tobacco. He wants those who smoke to enjoy their own special place outside the stadium.
I have a feeling smokers will fail to see their hazy sanctuary as an expression of open arms. While they smoke, they will be temporarily segregated from those who don’t.