On Monday, following a public hearing to take new comments, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a law that bans smoking cigarettes and the use of other smoking products in county buildings, vehicles and grounds. County Manager Wayne Jenkins said in February the Board of Health adopted a decision recommending the Board of Commissioners adopt a law to ban smoking and use of other tobacco products on county properties. “This is not precedence setting because the Cultural and Wellness Center is smoke-free,” Jenkins declared to the board.
The regulation states that smoking tobacco and the use of smoking products are banned in any building owned, leased or occupied by the county, in any county vehicle owned, leased or controlled by the county and on any grounds that are owned, leased or occupied by the county.
Smoking and the use of tobacco products are also prohibited in county buildings and on county grounds being used for private events.
The county will place signs indicating the tobacco-free places and remove all ashtrays and receptacles.
The law does provide enforcement and penalty in which following an oral or written notice failure to quit smoking or using tobacco products may constitute an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $50. A fact may be issued by a sworn law enforcement officer.
County employees may be subject to disciplinary action according to county policies.
“If you approve this regulation today it becomes effective 60 days from the date of approval,” Jenkins argued. “The main aim of this regulation is for educational purposes and that is to educate our citizens and to remind our inhabitants about the use of tobacco products, and the issues and concerns that come as the result of the use of tobacco. We have in place a legislation out at the Cultural and Wellness Center, no one has been arrested, no one has been issued a citation—its only there for education and our staff reminds our residents time to time that this is a smoke-free campus.”
He added the same reason and logic used at the Cultural and Wellness Center will be applied with the county law. Commissioner Chester Deloatch questioned what would happen to employees that smoke tobacco on county property.