Concord bans smoking, tobacco in parks

CONCORD, NC —

Cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris is gone and now smoking is on its way out, too, as Concord City Council bans smoking and the use of tobacco products from city parks.

Concord City Council voted 4-3 Thursday to ban smoking and tobacco use from the city’s parks to encourage healthier choices for residents and to reduce the effect of secondhand smoke on the children and adults who use the parks.

Council members Dr. Hector Henry, John Sweat, Lamar Barrier and Ella Mae Small voted for the ban. Council members David Phillips, Jim Ramseur and Alfred Brown voted against it.

The “Prohibiting Ordinance” prohibits all smoking and the use of tobacco products in the parks and places enforcement with the Concord Police Department. This model mirrors the one used by Cabarrus County and Harrisburg in their parks.

Council members were presented with two options before the vote. One option was to completely ban smoking and tobacco use from the parks and the other was to ban it from most the park, but allow it in parking lots at the parks.

Small said she voted for the total ban because she wants to protect youth from secondhand smoke.

“I used to smoke years ago. Because of my smoking, I do have a lung problem now. It’s not anything that’s life threatening, but cigarette smoke can damage your lungs,” Small said. “There are a lot of children in the parks and I would not like to have them exposed to even secondhand smoke. If (people) want to smoke, they can drive away from the park and smoke and then come back.”

Ramseur said he supported banning smoking from the parks, but preferred the option that still allowed it in the parking lots.

“I’d like to speak for the restricted portion where we still allow smoking in the parking lots only. I’d like to try it out and stick our foot in the water before we jump in the water,” he said during the Concord City Council meeting on Thursday.

Henry said he thought allowing smoking and tobacco use in the parking lots, but not the parks would be confusing for patrons of the parks.

“It is the way things are done at the Cabarrus parks and the Harrisburg parks,” he said. “It does bring consistency to the park system everybody uses.

“There’s no question that there are going to be people who will not follow the rules,” he said. “I think we need to be very aggressive about this. There’s a tremendous amount of support for this. I really think this is a good step forward.”
By: Karen Cimino Wilson

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