It's the season for fairs and festivals; when families have a lot of fun and local organizations attempt to raise money.

At many such events, crowds gather in close quarters such as in front of stages where entertainers perform, at midways, and for popular children's' rides.

One observation made at such events: It was hard to traipse anywhere without smelling smoke from cigarettes, including in the vicinity of toddler rides. It's not uncommon to home from such events with the odor of cigarettes on your clothing.

National health studies regularly warn us about second-hand smoke. Yet, we continually expose our most precious resources – our children and grandchildren – to it.

Children at such events sometimes have to dodge the hands of adults holding cigarettes by their sides.

We're not saying adults should not be permitted to smoke. But non-smokers should have protection from second-hand smoke at all public facilities, including fairs and festivals.

This could be accomplished if special smoking areas are designated in much the same way some fairs and festivals have beer gardens. Not only would it protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke, it would prevent a lot of litter from occurring since too many smokers think nothing of just tossing their cigarette butts to the ground.

Legislators have required that cigarette packages carry warning labels stating that smoking is harmful. They have imposed rigid rules regarding smoking in restaurants and some other public facilities. They fund many reports to prove how unhealthy smoking can be.

Many schools have banned smoking.

Smoking is not permitted in many public buildings.

Yet, in areas where children congregate, such as festivals, carnivals, and even on playgrounds, smoking is often allowed.

State or federal legislators should enact stringent policies on such public smoking areas so that policies are consistent.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect them as much as possible from all harm, including the harm of second-hand smoke.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com