A smoking and tobacco ban in Mecklenburg County parks goes into effect today, just about six months since its passage. The move affects some 200 parks within the county, including many in the city of Charlotte, whose leaders were among those not behind the passage of the ban due to a requirement that their staff enforce a ban they did not support.

“This is a very big deal,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, Mecklenburg County health director, via a press release. “This kind of action shows that we’re serious, as a community, about reducing the impact of chronic disease.”

The county will be replacing temporary “coming soon” signs with permanent ones on government-owned property and at Mecklenburg County Parks, giving visitors and residents a reminder that the areas are now smoke-free, and park property is tobacco-free.

“Parks are outdoor health centers, and making them tobacco-free improves the health of all visitors,” added Jim Garges, County Park and Recreation director.

Violators can be fined $25 if they do not adhere to the ban and any warnings from enforcement officials.

Smoking and tobacco use will still be allowed at county-owned golf courses as well as 18 regional parks.

Mecklenburg County is home to over 1 million residents.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.