Winston-Salem looks into ban on smoking in city parks

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(WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL) —The Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department is looking into a ban on smoking in city parks, at the request of council member Molly Leight.

Tim Grant, the city recreation director, looked into what polices are in place in cities and counties in North Carolina and provided a memo to Mayor Allen Joines and the Winston-Salem City Council.

The department found that the smoking policies ranged from totally banning smoking in parks to banning smoking near playgrounds to limiting smoking to the parking lots. Some cities have created “tobacco-free zones” at places where programs for children are held, such recreation centers, ball fields and playgrounds.

Grant said Leight “asked us to look into it after she received a complaint about someone smoking on a playground.” Leight could not be reached Monday for comment.

Grant said the information will be presented to the council’s General Government Committee for discussion. Any prohibition regulations would require the posting of signs and enforcement.

In his memo, Grant said the argument for a complete ban is that allowing the use of tobacco products in parks is an implied approval and possibly an endorsement of tobacco product use. If people who use the park are prohibited from using tobacco products, it “sends a message that parks promote healthy environments for all park patrons.”

Grant said smoking in city parks does not appear to be a major problem.

If the council wants to pursue the issue, a proposal could be presented to the Recreation and Parks Commission for consideration, the memo said.

Sarah Fedele, a spokeswoman for the local chapter of The American Heart Association, said her group supports people who are stepping forward to protect people from secondhand smoke.

“Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, work or play increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent,” Fedele said.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal