Disney bans smoking at US Disney parks

Posted Thursday, March 28, 2019 9:34 PM | Contributed by Jeff

On May 1, Disney parks in Florida and California will become smoke-free, the company announced on Thursday.

Read more from The New York Times.

Saturday, March 30, 2019 11:53 PM

As a smoker, I really dont have a problem with this. Do I wish they kept at least 2 smoking sections? Sure. I also look at it as saving me money and the government is getting less of my money because cigarettes are one of the highest taxed items there is.

As far as addictions to stuff, I am more concerned with cell phone usage. I know people will say that they shouldnt have to be exposed to second hand smoke, I shouldnt have to be exposed to people texting while driving. How many people die every year from 2nd hand smoke vs. driving while texting? Hell, look what happens when they ban cell phones from lines at amusement parks...

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 8:23 AM

I don't know how all of that explaining is relevant. Whatever Kevin did or didn't call it seems irrelevant for the apples to zebras analogy you were making.

When the words in a post to which I respond aren't relevant, then I know I am in Ohio ballot initiative land. For that reason, I'm out.

Gonch--can you pass me a cigarette?

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 11:26 AM

My issue with the Disney smoking sections was their placement. They always seem to be near restrooms and I often cannot get to a restroom without dealing with the smoking. If those places were more out of the way I doubt I would care one way or the other about this.

I will say that I find it interesting that I don't see a lot of smoking down here in South Florida, and I'm guessing that is because people are generally more health conscious, even though I have no statistics to back that up. I was completely caught off guard by the number of smokers in NYC this past week.

As far as strollers, we had our stroller time Disney days and I was always considerate. We took a travel stroller, not a Humvee stroller, and I was always careful about how I pushed it through the park, where I parked it, etc. The problem isn't the strollers. It is the inconsiderate stroller pushers.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 1:01 PM

The rate of smoking in Florida is 16.1% (and I acknowledge you said South Florida, which obviously may be different - of course community to community in S Fla would be too). That's very close to the national average. In New York it's 14.1%; again, NYC may be different, but in what direction I don't know. In both places of course you tend to get a lot of visitors and particularly foreign visitors. In my experience, if you want to see smokers visit Indiana.

https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/smoking-adults/

As for the rest of the discussion, it might help to tease apart some questions. The first is whether Disney is doing this for smokers' health, to which my response would be "doubtful." After all, burgers, fries, Coca-Cola, etc. as noted.

The second would be whether Disney is doing this for the benefit of the 80+% of their customers who don't smoke, which seems much more likely. I suspect that benefit is, in reality, much more a question of the obnoxiousness of second-hand smoke, and the unsightliness of cigarette butts, etc., than it is a question of health. From the business standpoint, it doesn't really matter; if it makes 80% of their customers happier to exile smokers to the happiest smokers' jail on earth, and the large majority of the other 20% aren't driven away by that policy, then it probably makes sense to do that.

(The nuisance of leaving and re-entering the park aside, it's also probably way easier to tell guests "just outside the front gate" than to try to direct them to a non-obvious location in the park. And, nusiance aside, you're already being sent to smokers' jail; is it really that much more insulting to have to leave the park?)

As for the actual health effects: the effects of secondhand smoke are real, but I'm not convinced the effects of secondhand smoke in a semi-secluded outdoor location are worse than, say, having to walk past the idling tourbuses in the parking lot. (Don't get me started on cruise ships.)

Last edited by hambone, Sunday, March 31, 2019 1:02 PM
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Sunday, March 31, 2019 1:23 PM

GoBucks89 said:
When the words in a post to which I respond aren't relevant, then I know I am in Ohio ballot initiative land. For that reason, I'm out.

Attributing the failure to make an argument to others seems like a pretty convenient out. Your photography argument in context makes no sense when comparing to smoking.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 2:30 PM

Hambone's interpretation of how this went down seems pretty reasonable. But I would offer another piece to the pie. That is, we've all been discussing this from a guest's perspective, but what about the employees'? As far as I can tell, Florida is not currently one of the states with a smoking ban on all indoor venues, etc. California, however, is. A large part of that push came with the idea that employees have a right to work in a safe environment, and a safe environment certainly does not include sucking in smoke all day/night. Despite the calls of "well just get another job", the laws passed.

(side note, I would add that I think it should be up to a private business...especially a place like a bar...if they want to allow smoking or not. Let the market decide whether or not they sink or swim. Here in Ohio some bars kept allowing smoking, and they got fined to death.)

While I would certainly assume that second-hand smoke outdoors presents a much lesser risk than indoors, I actually came across some relatively recent peer-reviewed research that shows it's not all that great either; specifically here, here, and here.

So perhaps one also does not want to be a worker whose job it is to clean the designated areas all day, either. Then again, I'm not sure if it works like RCT2 where you are assigned a specific area, but I would certainly think so.

As a guest, I can steer clear of any area of the park I want to. As a worker, I might not have a choice.

GoBucks89 said:

I enjoy taking pictures.....If I were to find out that a given planned vacation didn't allow cameras, would it be absurd to cancel it? You may think so but I don't. Seems to me absurdity is often in the eyes of the beholder. That you may find something absurd and I don't doesn't seem to me to make one of us wrong. Just different.

Like others noted, you're comparing a hobby to an addiction. If it's just you, then no...it's not absurd. Who cares what you do? But put it back in the scenario. When you have kids, you lose your license to be selfish when and where you want. This is why it might not come as a shock that a lot of people come to therapy to shed their addictions (if they're directly harmful, like smoking) when they have kids of their own or grandchildren. They get it.

But...just to play along, if you had a vacation to Disney planned...your kids are pumped....it's a dream come true...and then Disney banned picture-taking and you told them the trip was cancelled just because you couldn't take pictures? Let's just say you're not going to garner many "dad of the year" votes from your kids.

You would literally be communicating to your partner and children the following message:

"Kids, Partner...taking pictures is more important to me than any of you. Love, Dad."

But again, we're comparing a hobby to an addiction, but I thought I would play along. ;)

I have conversations with parents like this all the time. You have every right to make decisions you make with and for your kids, as long as you are willing to accept the fact that those choices will have consequences and repercussions.

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, March 31, 2019 3:39 PM
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Sunday, March 31, 2019 3:13 PM

Good for Disney. I never smoked (well aside from all the 2nd hand smoke I breathed in hanging out in bars for years while drinking), but understand how tough it is to live with a vice/addiction.

Does anyone remember what it was like asking a smoker to not smoke/move, say back in the 90s? Quite a difference. When I was in Jr. High, the secretary in the principal's office smoked right there at her desk. I was in there way too much. People smoked everywhere.

Someone mentioned Cedar Point. It seems there are always people smoking where they want there, trying to "hide it." If the park has the rule, they should enforce it.

Smoking always gave me a headache, but it's nothing compared the dreaded "fragrance allergy" I have. When will the parks ban AXE products? Half-joking, but that stuff is super toxic. Along with air fresheners, and the cloud of fabric softener that seems to pump through my neighborhood. "But I have to smell clean!"

What really sucks is I used to love all those 'fragranced' products.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 4:18 PM

Florida banned indoor smoking in most workplaces (by Constitutional Amendment) in 2003. There are some exceptions, including some bars, but you won't see it many places.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 8:54 PM

Well said Hambone.

Could Disney also be trying to get ahead of the curve on pot smokers? I think most people will agree its going to be legalized in every state sooner or later. If you add pot smokers and cigarette smokers together those numbers would be alot higher then most would expect.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 9:13 PM

Most states that allow it don't allow you to smoke a blunt whilst walking down the street. They want you to do it in designated, private places.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 11:00 PM

Is it legal in New York? We smelled it EVERYWHERE and the designated location seemed to be, "wherever you damn well like".

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Sunday, March 31, 2019 11:15 PM

It was the same in Denver. A local told us that even though smoking in public is unlawful the police learned very quickly to pick their battles.

When we were at California’s Great America last October it seemed like a cloud of pot was hanging over the park, especially in the morning. The first few times I caught a good whiff I was all like “Who’s got the reefer?” then it finally dawned on me that it was legal there, duh. I can be pretty sure the park has a policy against it, but once again...

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Monday, April 1, 2019 4:44 PM

I missed all the fun strawmen and judgementalism, but I really have to wonder what Disney's angle is here. We've been to Disney resorts 3 times in the last 4 years and we didn't have any trouble with smoking what-so-ever. I can't imagine there being a whole lot of complaints about the current system. Unless Disney is really saying that they don't want smokers' business, which I guess maybe they're in a position to do.

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Monday, April 1, 2019 5:05 PM

Per this article:

Disney won't be losing out on 14% of the country's population. A whopping 21% of adults with an annual household income less than $35,000 smoke, a group that is not part of Disney's target audience, given that its ticket pricing has increased for 31 years in a row. Less than 8% of adults with an annual household income above $100,000 smoke.

The trends also find younger adults less likely to smoke than middle-aged Americans, and younger families are just what the House of Mouse is gunning for these days. Likewise, adults who are married or living with a partner are less likely to smoke than someone who's single -- once again playing into Disney's core theme park-visiting audience.

Something has to thin the herd before Galaxy's Edge hits. Speaking of which, I'm guessing Death Sticks will be banned don Batuu.

Last edited by OhioStater, Monday, April 1, 2019 5:07 PM
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Monday, April 1, 2019 5:24 PM

The funny thing is, I've been wholly annoyed at the location of the smoking areas in three of the parks. At AK, they suddenly moved it to this parallel path between Africa and Asia, which we often used as a place to eat counter service food or just circumnavigate crowds. At MK, it's in the escape route behind Barnstormer that comes out next to Space Mountain. At Epcot it's right on the main midway between Promenade and the side path that goes up to the west side of Future World, and it's not isolated at all during the festivals (which is most of the year).

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Monday, April 1, 2019 5:47 PM

Didn't that escape route at MK go away as part of Tron construction?

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 12:10 AM

Good question... I haven't been back that way in a few months.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 12:11 PM

As a lung cancer survivor who never smoked a day in his life but STILL lost part of my lung, Im admittedly judgemental, intolerant, and prejudiced towards smoking. I don’t think anyone should be forced to be around it anywhere. If people want to smoke they can do so in their homes or cars.

If Disney chose to go extreme, they could ban smoking on their entire property, meaning that you can't even smoke in your own car. Many places of work are going that way. If you want to smoke, you have to leave the property completely.

I remember when I worked at Eaton back in Ohio and they went smoke-free, at break-time, you could see a line of employees standing on opposite side of street smoking.

This can be a touchy subject with many. I'm a non-smoker but have many friends who smoke. My view has always been: smoke as much as you want, as long as it doesn't bother me.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 2:25 PM

Jeff said:

Most states that allow it don't allow you to smoke a blunt whilst walking down the street. They want you to do it in designated, private places.

(Quietly cancels trip to Colorado.)

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 8:01 PM

I would assume that escape route is gone. They've completely ripped out the train tracks between the Storybook station and Space Mountain, along with closing the speedway, can't imagine the walking path stayed open.

As Jeff mentioned, after this conversation I noticed some of the smoking areas are definitely not in the best locations to be discrete or out of the way. I hadn't thought about the marijuana angle, but that is as valid a possible reason as any other. Otherwise, I don't think we had a single incident with smokers this past week. It's not something I would keep track of but honestly can't remember the last time we have encountered a smoker at a Disney park.

I also paid more attention to some of the strollers. The other night we saw a couple of massive double-wides on a bus. The kind that reduces bus capacity and requires parents to choose their seat based on where that darn thing will fit. In this case, both had stickers on the side for the company they were rented from. Given their size, I had to look them up. According to the rental firm, both of them are within the new guidelines.

I wish I had gotten a name off this single-wide but extra-long model we saw in one of the parks. It had spots for two infants plus a bigger child. I could see it exceeding the length guidelines. Of course its all for naught it Disney doesn't enforce it. Saw a selfie stick in use at Epcot, and they are supposedly banned.

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