Local News

Raleigh Looks to Put 'No Smoking' Signs in Parks

Posted October 24, 2007 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2007 7:00 p.m. EDT

— City officials are examining the idea of adding public parks to the list of places where smokers can't light up.

The matter has been referred to a committee headed by City Parks Superintendent Scott Payne after local resident Greg Grady complained to Mayor Charles Meeker about smoking in Pullen Park. In an e-mail to Meeker, Grady wrote that the park was littered with cigarette butts and that children were being exposed to second-hand smoke.

"Part of the intrinsic value of a trip to the park with your children is the feeling that you are introducing them to a reasonably safe and clean environment," Grady wrote in the e-mail. "When one has to pry cigarette butts from their kids' hands three or four times over a two-hour period as well as ask a stranger to please move a few more feet away from my child with their lit cigarette, then that feeling is dramatically altered."

"It's an interesting issue," Payne said. "Certain states, at the state level, have in place state laws banning smoking in proximity to playgrounds."

U.S. researchers found this year that even brief exposure to second-hand smoke in bars can result in a toxin that's known to cause lung cancer.

That research led state lawmakers to pass a bill that banned smoking in all state-owned or -leased buildings, including
college campuses. But the General Assembly defeated a bill that would have snuffed out smoking in public spaces like restaurants.

Wake County and Raleigh have banned smoking in government buildings, and area hospitals and schools have also gone tobacco-free.

Payne said his committee, which is likely weeks away from submitting any recommendations to the City Council, is considering restricting smoking in all city parks, especially in and around children's play areas.

"There's a lot of research out there," he said. "There's research at the state level, research from the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention)."