Pinehurst Bans Tobacco, Guns at Parks
The village of Pinehurst has banned tobacco use and concealed handguns at virtually all of its outdoor recreational facilities.
The Village Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to ban the two items at village playgrounds, athletic fields, swimming pools and other athletic facilities.The greenway trails are considered athletic facilities in relation to both bans.
The lone exception to the tobacco ban will be the Harness Track.
The bans are effective immediately, but Parks and Recreation Director Mark Wagner said there will be an education campaign that will take place before penalties are enforced.
Wagner told the council that smoking in public parks has resulted in increased staff hours devoted to clean up. Cigarette butts, he said, are hazards to the public and significantly reduce the aesthetics of facilities.
“We see people go to the park for the sole purpose of smoking and then they discard their cigarette butts out their car windows,” Wagner said.
The village decided to allow tobacco at the Harness track due to the nature of the business, and the fear that a ban would hurt business there.
“Earl (Police Chief Earl Phipps) would have to open up a substation down there if we were to try to enforce it,” Wagner said of banning tobacco at the track.
Wagner said the village will work with FirsthHealth on signage to notify park users of the prohibition of tobacco products and use other methods to notify the public of the changes.
He recommended a three-month awareness program before starting to enforce the ban.
The county has a similar smoking ban at its athletic facilities, Wagner said, and other municipal recreation departments in the county are considering similar action.
Wagner also provided the council with a letter of support from a local physician, Dr. Edward N. Squire Jr.
In the letter, Squire says the ban would benefit the health of nonsmokers and improve the experience of nonsmokers who use areas that permit smoking.
“Benefitting smokers by acting to restrain their smoking through inconvenience and protecting nonsmokers from having exposure to the noxious irritant effects of tobacco smoke, and or the behavior that older children and teenagers may later seek to imitate are worthy measures and that make sense and should be pursued,” Squire wrote.
The village already bans smoking in village buildings and vehicles.
The handgun ban, Wagner said, resulted from legislation enacted by the state legislature that allows concealed handguns in public restaurants and public parks.
Current legislation allows municipalities to enact ordinances to ban concealed handguns in certain recreation areas.
The new village ordinance allows a person with a valid concealed handgun permit to secure the handgun in a locked vehicle within the trunk, locked glove box, or other secured enclosed compartment or area within or on the motor vehicle.
Wagner told the council that he has not heard of any problems with individuals who have guns at parks or other athletic facilities.
“Not that we have problems now — we don’t,” he said. “But sometimes emotions can run high on the athletic fields and we just want to make sure we ensure the safety of everyone who regularly uses and enjoys are parks.”
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or email@example.com.
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