Cigarettes ruining walking mall

It was exciting to read that the American Planning Association named our pedestrian mall “One of America’s Great Public Places.”

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but the list is not exactly exclusive. Florida alone garnered 10 citations.

Who is complaining? Not me, not yet, as I sit quietly on a bench on the mall 34 yards from Wagner Park. I see the daily charge of canines toward the rugby field. I relish the views. I see children organizing rubber duck races in the ersatz rivulets. I work on my laptop and send instant messages to friends in lands not cited by the American Planning Association as “One of America’s Great Public Places” and ask them how long they spent in traffic that morning.

All is well until I smell something, a combination of rancid gerbil vomit, untreatable halitosis, malfunctioning diesel engine exhaust, my smelliest socks ever, canine diarrhea, the Baton Rouge municipal landfill, freshly squeezed anchovy juice, platypus flatus and the weapons-grade BO from the 345-pound seat partner for a 10-hour flight to Dubai.

The olfactory offense comes from the person on the adjoining bench who decides to smoke a cigarette. Said puffer renders any awards from the American Planning Association completely irrelevant. The smell I just described, in perhaps the longest sentence ever printed in The Aspen Times, before this one, wafts over me and “One of America’s Great Public Places” becomes one of its worst.

If the powers-that-be are keen to maintain the beauty of the pedestrian mall areas, then, perhaps, they will ban smoking and march the puffers to Rubey Park where it’s perfectly OK to smoke within 7 inches of the signs that read, “No Smoking Within 25 Feet of This Sign.”

Scott T. Martin