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Local bans proliferate, from plastic water bottles to swearing to leaf blowers

Future archeologists who stumble upon the annals of local government, circa 2012, may find this era remarkable for the things we tried to get rid of: enormous sodas, small plastic water bottles, public swearing, fatty food, loud leaf blowers.

Middleborough, Needham, and Brookline have joined Cambridge and made the news, with the coverage sometimes favorable and sometimes mocking, for passing bans that tried to make their residents healthier, quieter, more environmental. But the expanding list of potentially prohibited food, drink, and noise has spawned its own debate: Do the bans work? And are they necessary?

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