When the North Carolina legislature passed a statewide smoking ban in 2009, it gave local governments the power to exceed the state prohibition by restricting smoking in additional locations, including local government grounds, such as parks.
As expected, municipalities have taken advantage of this power by restricting smoking in public outdoor areas. Earlier this year, Raleigh passed an ordinance banning smoking in parks and greenways.
Now, Greensboro is considering a similar type of ban. Greensboro is still accepting comments from the public on this proposal.
When the state bans smoking in private locations, such as restaurants, it is violating the property rights of private property owners. A property owner should be able to decide whether or not he wants to allow smoking in his establishment. Potential patrons can make informed decisions as to whether they want to visit the establishment.
When it comes to public parks, such a property rights argument doesn't exist. However, there may even be more compelling arguments. Parks and open public grounds aren't enclosed areas and as a result no legitimate health argument exists. There's a big atmosphere that can protect people from someone smoking a cigarette on a bench hundreds of feet away.