Smokers Are Planning A Protest On Boston Common

It’s in response to a new city law that fines people up to $250 for lighting up in public spaces.

Peeved by a recently passed law that prevents people from lighting up in public parks all around the city, a group of pot proponents is trying to plan a “smoke out” on the Boston Common this weekend to fight back against the new ban.

According to a Facebook page called “Boston Common Smoke Out/Vape Up!,” organizers are encouraging people to show up at the park near the State House on Saturday, and start puffing away on cigarettes, marijuana, and vaporizers in order to send a message to City Hall that their new ordinance is out of line.

“As concerned citizens who spend much leisure time on the Common and other parks, we are outraged to learn that there will now be a…fine for smoking outdoors,” organizers wrote on the event page. “We reject the Nanny State ban on smoking outdoors, we recognize this as unenforceable at best— and selectively enforceable at worst—[and] we see potential enforcement as a huge waste of tax revenue.”

The “smoke out” is in response to a law former Mayor Tom Menino signed off on before he left office. The ordinance bars anyone from smoking cigarettes, marijuana, and vaporizers in 251 public areas around Boston, and allows officers and park rangers to issue citations of up to $250 to anyone who breaks the rule.

As of Thursday night, 37 people had already committed to attending the smoking session on the Common.

The group said they plan on disobeying the ordinance on the third weekend of every month until the ban has been repealed, despite the hefty fines. Whether or not they follow through remains to be seen.

Mike Cann, a marijuana advocate, was helping spread the word about the impromptu gathering, and sharing event details on Twitter and Facebook Thursday night. Cann said he understands the city’s concern about the dangers of second-hand smoke, but thinks that the way in which the ordinance is written goes overboard.

“They have gone way too far,” he said. “And for me, the reason I am going to show up and go to these and support these events is because of the kids out there who may not know about these fines. If someone can’t pay these fines, and didn’t know about the law, that could become a criminal matter.”

City officials, when they passed the smoking ban in December, said they would educate the public and visitors before issuing citations. But Cann still thinks lawmakers have overstepped their bounds.

Cann said that people have been lighting up on the Common for decades—whether it be cigarettes or marijuana—and the new law feels like a clever way to keep the annual Freedom Rally, a two-day event that promotes marijuana legalization and education, from happening in the future.

“[Boston officials] were politically motivated to go after the Freedom Rally. They found a way to do it, and they had talked about doing this ordinance before the Freedom Rally this year,” said Cann.

He said the law is a “huge waste of resources,” and he feels as though it could lead to problems like New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” program.

Cann said the turnout will likely be small this weekend because of the last-minute notice and the chilly weather, but he still expects around 50 people will take part in the smoke out, an event he believes will be the starting point of something bigger.

“By the day [April 20] comes around, they should expect to have thousands of people out here,” he said, referencing the date “4/20,” a day when pot smokers typically gather together and light up. “They are going to have the biggest 420 problem on the Common than they have ever had before. I’m telling you, this is the way people feel in the city. With what’s happened with decriminalization, and medicinal marijuana, this is just the start.”

  • Kc TheManagement Hoye

    Mike Cann isn’t referred to as “The King of Pot” the late great Michael Malta had that distinction.

  • Amanda Bagley

    Mike Malta IS the “King of Pot”, not “Mike Cann”. Please get your facts straight boston magazine.

  • commenty_mcgee

    This is possibly the most worthless thing to be wasting your time protesting.

  • christineboston

    We may not die from second hand smoke in a park, but we’ll have a pleasanter experience if there’s no smoke smell AND 1) it takes 10 years for a cigarette butt to degrade; 2) it might help smokers cut back more and save us lots of medical expense; and 3) it’s not fair that parks bear the brunt of smokers when they are banned in other locations.

    • Nicklebag Neighbors

      Whatever will we do about the fart smell on the bus?…All those unhealthy Mcdonalds filled colons…maybe people should smoke on the bus and fart in the parks…


    For all you idiots- As long as my taxes go towards maintaining these parks I have rights there as a smoker. All you liberals think you can control everything in this state- I wonder how you’d feel if we all quit and your taxes went up tenfold. Last I checked I thought this was a democracy….Start minding your own house and but out of mine.

    • B Russell

      You think this is just democrats…

  • Wanita Lorraina Shomali

    Are u ducking kidding me??? While its nice to clean up these beautiful parks…They should be investing in the stainless tube of outing cigerettes like hospitals and Courts and other public places do…Which are all mind you…OUTDOORS…As far as Im concerned all types of people are allowed to be free in their citys parks without someone telling them what to do…Yea smoking is not a goid hlthy choice…Its ours to make…Next the citys and state and Government will be charging us to breathe the air…Itsf fair to stop cigarette smoking in Indoir public places…But If someone told me to stop smoking in my car…In my house…A my Park walking down the street…Id personally shove the cigarette up their ass…End of Story…

    • 1personvoice

      Ummm, you also can’t drink alcohol in public, you know, or in a car. . . want to whine about that too?

  • Nicklebag Neighbors

    ..theres 250 other parks in the city(outside your fancy pants downtown area)…back in the day in the neighborhood you could hang out in parks and smoke weed in peace with your friends…this law just gives cops a reason to harass people and run them for warrants…like the Brookline bike laws..

    • 1personvoice

      Hahaha, normal upstanding citizens who are not Hooligans aren’t “harassed” by cops at all and aren’t concerned about being run for warrants. I’m sure that’s a regular concern of yours. . . I’m snickering now. Good thing you’ve got other public parks to go to where you can be a suspect sloth hiding from the police . . .

  • Charles Wynott

    I just love our protest, it may be cold but light up!

    • Mike Cann

      We did just that! Great, fun day. 🙂 More to come.

  • Kimo Kiyabu This report shows why people should vape and how ignorant politicians are when it comes to vaping. This report will prevent vaping from being ban anywhere in the world.

  • 1personvoice

    Good ban. I’m tired of smokers using public parks like giant ashtrays. Inconsiderate slobs. Go filthy up your own private space.

    • Michael White

      So it’s the litter that bothers you, not the smoking?

      • 1personvoice

        Both, yes.

        • Michael White

          What are you going to say when they decide it’s the color of your house that’s offensive? Or the color of your hair, or eyes. Where does government control over the individual end?

          • 1personvoice

            We are all being controlled. It’s a giant conspiracy theory. I am currently a submissive robot to the US government and they are dictating my words to you right now. Bwaahahaha!!!

          • Michael White

            Knowing is half the battle, now learn how to break the bonds of government enslavement and be your own person, you, and the world, will be better for it.

  • Robert Oliver

    I was addicted to rolled cigarettes, especially it called “kretek” made in Indonesia that I bought at Bali Cigarettes
    I really enjoyed it taste and I still can not move to the filtered ones. But most importantly, I always smoke alone without anyone else around me.