No smoking in Rome’s parks this summer. Right or wrong? Useful or not?


Villa Panphili park

My favorite mayor, the generally-inept Ignazio Marino, may win kudos from environmentalists now that he has ordered anything involving fire – barbecues, firecrackers, explosives and now pipes, cigars and cigarettes – to be banned from all of Rome’s parks this summer.

The barbecues were already off bounds last summer, as were fires set to burn undergrowth and thereby clear ground. But adding cigarettes to the mix is likely to mean Rome will have yet one more regulation that it is impossible to enforce. And this of course will add to the conviction of many Romans, that regulations – be they stop signs or a no parking areas – are there simply to be broken.

This, of course, is not devised as an anti-smoking rule, something that despite my dislike of smoking (I have never smoked except for that one I puffed on – ick! – as a freshman in college), I am not sure I would favor. The point is to make sure that the vegetation in Rome’s lovely parks and villas not be threatened by fire during what may be another long, hot summer. The ordinance will take effect on June 15 and will last through September 30th.

As a non-smoker, I am appalled by the vast number of cigarette butts spread over Rome’s sidewalks and –  even worse –  its ungrouted cobblestoned streets. But I can’t think of anything that could be done. At least not in this city. Romans compliance with the 2003 anti-smoking law that bans smoking in offices, cafés and restaurants has been nothing short of miraculous. But no smoking in parks? I’ll believe it when I see it.

(Editor’s note. Some cities in the world have imposed very stiff fines for tossing cigarette butts in the steet, apparently with some success. But for such a law to be effective, there has to be someone applying it. And that’s what’s lacking in Rome, more or less all down the line. No cops  here doing much of this at all.

To that point, has anyone in Rome seen with their own eyes someone get a fine for not scooping up after his or her dog? I haven’t. The dog poo situation IS someone improved but that’s only because more and more people realize how sensible it is. But smokers holding on to their cigarette butts? Not in this neck of the woods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *