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A ban on smoking at the citys transit centers and major bus stops took effect last week, but dont expect violators to get slapped with tickets just yet.
Transit officials plan to spend the first few weeks, likely until mid-December, posting signs and distributing information about the new rules, which are designed to improve public health and reduce littering.
Were not out there trying to do some type of harsh enforcement, said David Eatman, the citys transit administrator. We want to make sure we allow everybody the opportunity to understand what the new rules are first.
The ban makes it illegal to smoke in downtowns Moore Square Station, at transit stops at Triangle Town Center and Crabtree Valley Mall, and at the south Raleigh bus transfer area at Wilmington Street and Pecan Road.
People are not allowed to smoke within 25 feet of boarding locations. After the rollout phase, police or CAT security officers can issue citations similar to parking tickets.
The approach is based on a belief that nonsmokers shouldnt face the risk of secondhand smoke while using city facilities, said Les Seitz, vice chairman of the Raleigh Transit Authority.
The city plans to install a dozen or more cigarette receptacles near transit stops, but at a safe distance from where people wait for the bus.
Typically in public places, we try to protect people who dont smoke, Seitz said.
For the city, the ban marks the latest front in a larger battle to limit smoking in public areas.
In 2011, the city banned lighting up in all public parks and greenways except Nash and Moore squares downtown, joining a growing list of communities worried about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Just this month, the Knightdale Town Council banned smoking on town property, including in outdoor areas such as greenways and a planned park on First Avenue.
During the summer, Carolina Beach passed what is believed to be the first smoking ban on a North Carolina beach.