Following Concord, Harrisburg and Cabarrus County’s lead, Kannapolis will now ban smoking cheap Wind cigarettes and the use of tobacco products from all city parks. Over the past 18 months, Kannapolis officials have been working with the Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord, Harrisburg, Midland, Mount Pleasant and Cabarrus County to develop a tobacco use ordinance for city parks and facilities. Harrisburg, Concord and Cabarrus County have already banned use of tobacco products in their parks and recreation facilities.
Kannapolis City Council voted unanimously on Monday to ban it from Kannapolis’ parks and recreation facilities.
“We all know about the health risks or health concerns,” said Kannapolis Director of Parks and Recreation Gary Mills. “Everyone up here has known someone who has been affected by smoking. There is no risk free level of secondhand smoke. If you are subjected to secondhand smoke inside or outside, it’s the same.”
Mills said the decision to ban tobacco products will also help reduce littering at city parks.
In one day, city workers picked up 36 cigarette butts in the playground area at Village Park. Those discarded butts also pose a health risk for children using city playground equipment, Mills said.
In 2008, American Poison Control Centers received more than 7,000 reports of children under the age of six being poisoned by contact with tobacco products.
“We adopted the resolution to support the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign back in August to make Kannapolis a healthier community,” Mills said. “This is another one of those steps to make Kannapolis a healthier community. It’s about fostering environments that promote a healthy lifestyle. This is something we need to address.”
“How are you going to enforce this when you’ve got 9,000 people in the park,” council member Tom Kincaid asked. “It’s kind of like the drinking issue. You can’t really stop it.”
Mills said he recommends that the ban be implemented on Marcy 1, giving the city some time to education the public about the ban. He said adding signs and politely asking violators will be the first line of enforcement. Law enforcement could be called if a smoker was uncooperative.
“I think it’s going to be an enforcement nightmare,” council member Roger Haas. “When you start legislating behavior, I have a problem with it. The reason I would vote for it is the littering. For that reason, I’d be in favor of it.”
Council member Gene McCombs said he wants to make sure the city has a uniform policy for city employees who smoke. The new policy banning tobacco use in parks will prevent parks employees from being able to step outside of some parks facilities to smoke. The city’s public works department allows employees to smoke if they are at least 50 feet from the building.
“We have a couple of smokers in our department,” Mills said. “They’ve been made fully aware of it. They recognize it as a good thing.”