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Lighting the Way

Nonsmokers, please be grateful. Stadium Authority board member Mike Gotch got the authority at least to consider banning smoking at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, something almost unheard of at outdoor arenas. And, although the effort mostly failed, it may lead to more seats being set aside for nonsmokers.

The compromise the Stadium Authority finally agreed to was to display a sign on the scoreboard saying, “The Stadium Authority requests, if you smoke please be considerate of your neighbor.”

Signs also may be posted around the stadium, providing a gentle reminder to considerate smokers to inquire before lighting up. But the signs are unlikely to change the habits of those who staunchly defend their smoking as a right that supersedes the possible harm their secondhand smoke inflicts on others.

Those die-hard smokers, along with the tobacco industry, brought out enough force to defeat Gotch’s stronger proposal for a voluntary ban in the stands, accompanied by no-smoking signs.

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The authority’s decision, while a significant first step, in effect tells nonsmokers to “please continue to tolerate smoke” if they want to go to games. It leaves the onus on the majority who don’t smoke rather than where it belongs: on the minority who do.

Nonsmokers did score a few points, however. The Chargers and the Padres say they will consider expanding their nonsmoking sections, something they have resisted in the past as too unwieldy. We hope they succeed. It seems that it should be possible to accommodate both smokers and nonsmokers in an open-air stadium.


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