By: Gino Sabato
So Walt Disney World has announced that starting May 1st all smoking sections within its parks will be removed. Smokers will be directed outside the park beyond the security checkpoint in order to indulge. This probably doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that smokes and likes to visit Walt Disney World. The number of designated smoking areas has been decreasing for years and it was becoming more and more obvious that this day would come sooner rather than later.
There was of course a time that smoking was permitted pretty much in any outdoor area of the parks. Even restaurants offered a smoking section. Cigarettes were openly sold in the parks with some establishments totally dedicated to the sale and use of tobacco products. Of course things change and social norms become almost unrecognizable over time. Most smokers will even agree that reducing the area where people can smoke is a positive action, but removing all smoking areas is really a step too far.
I’m sure there are many that will disagree, but ultimately banning outdoor smoking (even in designated areas) is nothing short of discrimination. This is not a question of the health effects of tobacco or a question of morality this is a question of personal rights. There are plenty of unhealthy and potentially dangerous activities taking place inside Disney parks every day. In fact just about everything inside a Disney park is unhealthy and many activities could be potentially dangerous. From drinking alcohol to overeating, the entire nature of the business is overindulgence. Some of these activities are only harmful to the person performing the activity and some, like drinking too much, is dangerous to everyone around that individual. The effects of cigarette smoking in designated smoking areas, most of which are so far off the beaten path you require a map to find them, has little if any effect on any other guest in the park. Tobacco users are being singled out and systematically discriminated against. Tobacco is a legal product and those that choose to use tobacco should be treated like any other person.
To add icing to the cake Disney has also in their infinite wisdom decided to ban the use of vaping products as well as combustible tobacco. While vaping is not the first choice of most smokers many would gladly switch to vape for a day in order to avoid the problems with exiting the park just to have a smoke. This is literally just a slap in the face and further proof that this is a discriminatory action. The use of Vape products has absolutely zero effect on anyone but the user. The vapor from these products is essentially steam and dissipates almost immediately. There are some users of these products that use specialized vaping products that produce large amounts of vapor and it would be well within Disney’s purview to ban such products.
Most importantly there are smokers that are going to smoke in the parks regardless of the rules. While I would prefer to just not visit the parks than break the rules outright I do understand the mindset of the person that would sneak a smoke in an abandoned corner. Just the idea that people are not going to smoke or especially sneak a puff off a vape pen is ridiculous at its core. We live in a society where everyone has some kind of a special entitlement and rules are broken every single day. Disney can’t even manage to keep people from skipping ahead in ride queues. Good luck keeping a mom or dad that just spent 5 hours standing in line after paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the privilege of standing in that line from having a cigarette.
I for one will not be visiting a Disney park any time soon. While the smoking ban is not the reason for that decision it is certainly one of a hundred other reasons that make me chose to spend my money elsewhere. My family has been visiting Disney parks for almost 40 years and the direction the company has been headed for the last 20 years is the complete antithesis of what a Disney vacation was supposed to be.