Local News

Raleigh board to research costs associated with park smoking ban

Posted January 4, 2011 4:37 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2011 6:25 p.m. EST

— The Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board will spend the next two weeks researching costs associated with the proposed ban on smoking in Raleigh parks.

Raleigh city government tried to ban smoking in some parks three years ago, but lacked the legal authority to do so without approval from the General Assembly.

A new state law that banned smoking in indoor workplaces, though, allows local governments to ban smoking in public places. 

Raleigh is considering a proposal that would ban smoking in city-owned outdoor areas, including parks and greenways. The ban would cover all tobacco products, including chewing tobacco and snuff.

Tracy Bennett, who takes her children to the park, is in favor of the ban.

‘It’s a bad example and it smells terrible,” she said.

Matt Lazarus, a non-smoker, said he doesn’t have a problem with smokers lighting up at the park.

“They can’t smoke anywhere else, they might as well be able to smoke in the parks, out in public,” he said.

The advisory board will be researching how much it would cost to put up signs and possible punishment for violating the ban. They will present their findings at the next council meeting on Jan. 18. 

"This is going to be an enforcement nightmare," Councilman Thomas Crowder said Monday. "I think we need to have all these facts on the table."

Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin said she is worried about heavy-handed enforcement that "causes more problems than we solve."

Even after the information is presented to city leaders, some say they will still have a problem banning smoking in public parks.

"I'm a non-smoker and I wish nobody smoked to be honest with you, but the freedom to do as you want to do, we ought to allow that it happen," Councilman John Odom said.