December 16, 2008

City repeals 100-year-old spitting ban

City commissioners in Sarasota, Fla., have voted to revoke a 1908 law that banned citizens from spitting on streets, sidewalks and other public places.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to revoke the rarely enforced law, which lawyers had argued was being used to target lower-income people after police this month searched a man for violating the spitting ordinance and found him to be carrying a small amount of marijuana, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported Tuesday.

If we want to pursue this (spitting ban), we had better stop pursuing baseball too, because that would be a public facility and there is a lot of spitting going on in the dugout, Commissioner Kelly Kirschner said.

Commissioner Ken Shelin, the only official to vote against the measure, said his background in public health would not allow him to condone public spitting.

Shelin said the pathogenic organisms responsible for contagious diseases have not suddenly learned to be ladies and gentlemen.