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Winston-Salem considers smoking ban in city parks

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--- Winston-Salem City Council is exploring the idea of some type of smoking or tobacco ban at all 74 city parks.

Council Member Molly Leight says after receiving complaints from parents about second hand smoke in playground areas, she wanted council to see what other cities have in place.

The Parks and Recreation Department looked at 22 other cities across the state and found most have some kind of policy. Everything from full tobacco bans, to no smoking in playgrounds or smoking only in parking areas.

Smoker, Carlesha Braxton says, "If you just out here chilling you should be able to smoke. In a public park you should be able to smoke a cigarette it ain't a drug, it's legal."

But council member Leight says, "It's all over the place as to what different cities do and the tobacco city has to catch up with it too."

Tim Grant, Winston-Salem Parks Director says from his experience smoking hasn't been a huge problem at Winston-Salem parks.  "We've gotten a handful, one or two complaints over the past nine or ten years. It's not been a real issue for us, trash not been an issue, in all we've been able to accommodate that," says Grant.

When asked about the potential ban, David Howard a spokesman for Winston-Salem based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco said,

"There are those who don’t want to be around second-hand smoke, and youth should not be exposed to second-hand smoke. In places like parks, adult smokers are certainly considerate of others and it doesn’t appear to be much of an issue in the city as officials have said they have not had any problems with cigarette butt litter, or complaints of smoking or tobacco use in city parks."

The issue will first go before the city's parks and recreation committee to begin formulating a formal policy for council to consider further.