Jarred Postell, a smoker, says he thinks people should be allowed to smoke outside, so he doesn't support the idea of a ban on lighting up on a section of Elizabeth Avenue.
When N.C. restaurants and bars go smoke-free at the start of 2010, smokers might find another place they aren't welcome: part of Elizabeth Avenue and its sidewalks.
Central Piedmont Community College campuses are going tobacco-free next year, and the school asked the city of Charlotte to ban smoking on Elizabeth Avenue from Kings Drive to Charlottetown Avenue, where it bisects its central campus.
If the City Council approves the ban, Charlotte would be among the first cities in the country to ban smoking on a city sidewalk or street.
The city currently can regulate smoking in government buildings. When North Carolina's new smoking law takes effect Jan. 2, local governments could prohibit smoking in parks. But it's unclear whether governments can prohibit smoking on other public property - such as sidewalks or streets.
"This is a novel question," said Charlotte city attorney Mac McCarley, whose office is researching the issue. "It's probably one that the drafters of the statute didn't think about when they drafted it. It's open to interpretation."
It's unlikely that any new restrictions on Elizabeth Avenue would prohibit people from smoking in their cars.
CPCC leaders worry that if students can smoke only on the sidewalk, it will undermine the campus smoking ban, turning Elizabeth into an ashtray.
"It will be unattractive," said Amanda Capobianchi, the college's director of student life.
N.C.'s new law will ban smoking in restaurants and bars - a move that many other states made years ago. But if Charlotte moves forward with an Elizabeth Avenue ban, it would propel the city into the forefront of antismoking efforts around the country, said Cynthia Hallett, the executive director of the California-based Americans for Non-Smokers Rights.
New York City is considering banning smoking in parks, and the California municipality of Santa Cruz recently banned smoking on two streets.
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