Local News

Council to mull smoking ban in Raleigh parks

Posted January 21, 2009 11:25 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2010 3:10 p.m. EST

— There is a renewed push to snuff out smoking in Raleigh city parks. A proposed smoking ban will be up for discussion when the City Council meets Thursday.

“We do play in the park occasionally,” smoking-ban supporter Brandon King said.

King and his family live across the street from a Raleigh greenway. He says he is in favor of a smoking ban in public parks, particularly near playgrounds.

“Parents are there with their children to play and have a good time. Smoking drifts on certain days and in certain areas. So, in those particular areas, I think it should be banned,” King said.

In mid-March, the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board recommended that council members impose a smoking ban to cut down on secondhand smoke and litter.

Instead, the council voted to allow park managers who notice a problem with smoking and cigarette butts to request help from the city. The help would come in the form of trash receptacles for cigarette butts and signs urging people not to smoke.

Council members now plan to reconsider asking state legislators to change the law and allow them to enact a ban. A North Carolina law – passed 10 years ago – requires that the General Assembly grant approval for any smoking ban before a municipality can impose one.

“Whether it made sense 10 years ago, it doesn't make sense today,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Meeker says times have changed because of the steady decline of the tobacco industry in North Carolina.

“Back then, the state had a number of cigarette manufacturers, and tobacco was grown here. Now, one of the manufacturers has closed, and most tobacco is grown overseas, so it's time to take another look at it,” Meeker said.

However, not allowing people to light up in an open area – such as a public park – could be a tough sell in a state where tobacco used to be king.

Ericka Dean works for a Raleigh restaurant that still allows smoking at certain times of the day. She says she is against smoking bans.

“They shouldn't limit where we can smoke outside. I don't think it's fair,” Dean said.

The Raleigh City Council is scheduled to meet Thursday at 1 p.m. and the General Assembly convenes next Wednesday.