Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

September 17, 2013

Smoking downtown’s most undesirable problem

I visit downtown Cumberland nearly every day due to work obligations. But I find that there is a particular set of issues worth review.

I don’t think the so-called “undesirables” are a big problem.

When they do or say something offensive, I tell them that I do not appreciate it. We all need to stand up to inappropriate behaviors rather than running away from them.

I also do not think that the planters that were built as benches are a problem. In fact, it’s a bigger problem now that there’s nowhere to sit and enjoy downtown than it ever was allowing people to take in the beauty from a perch among green space. The restrictive nature of new fences and the elimination of benches is very unwelcoming.

The green spaces are an accent and beautifying feature of the downtown, with the exception of the poorly thought out trees that drop berries all across the mall and make dining beneath them unpleasant.

But what really bothers me more than anything is the lack of attention paid to the volume of smokers polluting the air downtown and casually dropping their smoldering butts on the bricked mall and in the planters.

The wretched smell of “second-hand smoke,” or as I call it, “backwash smoke,” is offensive and rude.

Like the “undesirable” people who occasionally act inappropriately, I frequently tell smokers to stop polluting the air I am breathing.

And why should any taxpayer dollars be spent cleaning up the constant butts sandwiched between the bricks and littering the streets?

Leaders of downtown and the city should start a revitalization of downtown with a little bit of advice from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Tackle the little things that add up to big things.

Look up the leadership model of broken windows theory and ban this unhealthy, disgusting, littering practice in downtown. Downtown is a public space and smoking should be eliminated on the mall.

We have to start somewhere and complaining about planters and a few people isn’t near as effective as taking action that will have an immediate impact.

The downtown business leaders need to get behind city efforts to shut down cesspools like the underpass and work on some real changes to the way people behave in public.

Ban smoking in downtown Cumberland as a first step to making it an even more beautiful place than it already is.

Lisa Taylor

Cumberland

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