Politics & Government

Mecklenburg commissioners to hear from public on smoking ban Tuesday

Mecklenburg County commissioners are scheduled to hear from the public Tuesday about a proposed ban on smoking on government grounds and all tobacco use – including electronic cigarettes – at county parks, greenways and golf courses.

The initiative is being pushed by Dr. Marcus Plescia, the county’s health director, and has been urged for years by Park and Recreation Director Jim Garges.

Tuesday’s public hearing will be the only opportunity for the public to sound off on the issue before commissioners vote on the ban Sept. 17.

Plescia has urged county officials to consider the comprehensive ban since he was hired in January, noting that tobacco use is the county’s top health concern. Such bans, he said, are among the most effective means to cut down on smoking as a county and show young people “that smoking isn’t cool.” He said 20 percent of Mecklenburg residents smoke and the goal is to cut that in half by 2020.

It has been endorsed by the commissioners’ Health and Human Services Committee and park commissioners. The proposed ordinances also have the support of the local chapter of the American Heart Association.

Two weeks ago, a survey of 1,394 golfers who use county courses showed that 66 percent don’t support the ban on golf courses and nearly 30 percent of those said they’d play elsewhere if the ban is imposed.

The survey by Ratcliffe Golf Services, which manages four of the five county-owned courses, said nearly 60 percent don’t smoke.

Commissioners are also expected to expand the scope of work for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Coalition for Housing and set a public hearing for Sept. 17 on extending $143 million in school bonds approved by voters in 2007.

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