The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, June 14, 2005  

Cherry Hill & Philadelphia Unsafe for Reasonable People

Beware of extremists; always, and particularly when it comes to smoking.

The already kind of irritating township of Cherry Hill, N.J., just across, and thankfully so, the Delaware River, today outlawed smoking on all public property, including parks and playgrounds, even open spaces of any kind, KYW News Radio (1060 AM) reports.

Meanwhile, here in Philadelphia, where the mayor and City Council are still trying to come to some kind of agreement banning smoking in the workplace, including in most bars and restaurants, a measure I could support in some form (if only because Susie Madrak pounded the merits thereof into my feeble brain), there’s another type of extremism at work, that in the personage of at least one businesswoman who I suspect will go along with such a prohibition, should it emerge, only with the proverbial kicking and screaming.

You see, earlier this afternoon I stopped in at a small shop on South Street where I was greeted by the image, and rather gray visage, of the proprietor sitting behind the register puffing a long one.

I knew it was a long cigarette because Madame Defarge was balancing about an inch and a half of ashes on the end of that thing, in the way only women of a certain age, all of them smokers of considerable duration, can manage consistently.

Now, we’re not talking here about some breezy, al fresco-ish eatery, nor about a chic little boutique with the doors and windows tossed open to bring in the fresh air (it is, after all, something like 94 degrees here today), but a tiny corner store, a poorly stocked little bodega, with no circulation to speak of whatsoever, a place of business where, I admit, I stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Even I thought it was disgusting.

[Post-publication addendum (June 15): For more about the Cherry Hill ban see “Smoking Banned on Town Property,” by Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer.]

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