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Public gets chance Monday to speak on proposed Mecklenburg smoking ban

MECKSMOKEBAN
MARK HAMES - mhames@charlotteobserver.com
David Plyler of Charlotte takes a puff from his cigarette while visiting a friend at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.The Mecklenburg commissioners are taking up the issue of banning smoking from all government buildings in county. This would include Charlotte and banning all tobacco from county parks. "I respect that," said Plyler, when informed of pending action. "I am for it." Plyler said he has already cut back on smoking because of the number of other places that have banned the practice. This would help him cut back even more, he said.

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    The public forum on the proposed smoking ban will take place at 6 p.m. Monday in Room 267 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St.



Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia and his staff are holding a public forum Monday evening to discuss the proposed ban on smoking on government grounds and all tobacco use at county parks, greenways and golf courses.

Since the state considers electronic cigarettes a tobacco product, they would be banned at parks and greenways.

Plescia, who is pushing the ban, told county commissioners last week that smoking is Mecklenburg’s most urgent health issue, particularly after a survey of residents showed that their top health concern is curtailing chronic diseases.

The measure would ban smoking from county-owned buildings, but it wouldn’t stop there. Since the commissioners are also Mecklenburg’s health board, the ban would be expanded to grounds at all municipal buildings, including ones owned by the city of Charlotte.

The ban was endorsed by the county commissioners’ Health and Human Services Committee, the Park and Recreation Commission, and Park and Recreation Department Director Jim Garges.

Last week, commissioners set a Sept. 2 public hearing and will vote on the measure at their Sept. 17 meeting.

Some commissioners have said they’re unsure whether they would support such a sweeping ban.

Monday evening, Plescia and other public health experts will explain the ban, talk about the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, and take input from residents.

“Smoking causes a lot of pain and suffering,” Plescia said. “It is an issue we can do a great deal about using policy interventions like the smoking bans. … We can show the youth that smoking is not cool.”

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