Durham Considers Ban on Smoking in Public

May 17, 2011

Durham health officials want to ban smoking in a number of public places, including all county and city grounds, athletic fields, playgrounds, and bus stops. Gayle Harris is director of the Durham County Health Department.

Gayle Harris: "We're trying to create a healthier environment for our community, and the people who live and work and play here. And so our board of health took the bold step to approve a law that would allow us to offer more places as smoke-free environments. We've included playgrounds and athletic fields in the city parks because that's where young children are and we want to limit the exposure as well as create more positive role-modeling for kids so that they don't see smoking that much."

The department is asking for public comment until June 15th. The measure would have to be approved by county commissioners before taking effect. Smokers who ignore the rule could be fined up to 50-dollars. Similar bans are popping up across the state as a result of 2010's statewide ban of smoking in bars and restaurants. That law gave local municipalities the authority to enact stricter measures.