by: Jenna Deery Updated:
CHARLOTTE - Mecklenburg County leaders heard from the public Tuesday night on a proposed ban that could keep smokers from lighting up in parks or even at the bus stops.
People lined up during the public hearing to tell Mecklenburg County Commissioners what they think of a proposed smoking ban.
Health concerns are what motivated county leaders to consider a ban on all tobacco use at public parks and greenways that would include chewing tobacco and E-cigarettes. The proposal also bans smoking at government buildings and on government grounds, including CATS bus stops and Park-N-Ride lots.
Health officials led the initiative after studies show tobacco use and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of preventable deadly illnesses.
"These regulations that we can put in place change behavior," said Dr. Brett Brown, a family physician for Novant Health.
Many doctors stood up in support of the ban during the public hearing before the board votes. Parents cried out for better examples to be shown for youth at parks.
"It wouldn't be so hypocritical when you go to a park and see people exercise but also see several people smoking," said one parent.
However, opponents called the ban a public interference in their private lives.
"This board has no right to interfere with the citizens of Mecklenburg," said smoker Tom Kerr. "Nor does it have the right to dictate what life choices people in Mecklenburg County should make."
The board is expected to vote on the ban in two weeks. If it passes, it will go into effect in March.