Meck County makes changes to proposed smoking ban

Published: Oct. 15, 2014 at 2:32 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 14, 2014 at 3:32 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Officials in Mecklenburg County have a revised smoking and tobacco ban for commissioners to consider.

When the proposed ordinance was first introduced, county officials wanted the Board of Commissioners to ban smoking on all county-owned property, and tobacco products from all parks, greenways, and county-owned golf courses.

County health officials said the ban is not just about second hand smoke. They say they're proposing the ordinance to help smokers quit, and to also send a message.

But some residents expressed concerns that it should be left to golfers to decide whether they want to play with people who used cigars. Others also objected that there wouldn't be a place set aside in parks for people who wanted to smoke.

After commissioners and the community weighed in, the county made some changes to the proposal.

"The draft rule and ordinance now include exclusions for all County-owned golf courses, as well as regional parks," County Manager Dena Diorio told commissioners. "While regional parks are excluded there is a provision included in the ordinance that allows the Park and Recreation Director to make special events non-tobacco use events in Reedy Creek Park, Freedom Park and Matthews Sportsplex."

Diorio said "the changes were made to reflect concerns regarding smoking in certain parks where large crowds gather for special events."

The county is defining a special event as "events held in either Freedom Park, Reedy Creek Park or Matthews Sportsplex, such as (i) festivals, (ii) concerts, or (iii) tournaments or other athletic events involving multiple athletic fields, when large number of people are expected to attend such events."

The County Manager told commissioners "while this is short of having all of our parks tobacco free I am pleased that we are taking a large step in the right direction. I believe the rule and ordinance will achieve broad support."

Commissioners are scheduled to consider the revised smoking ban on October 21.

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