NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, New Hanover County’s newly formed Health and Human Services Board discussed two draft proposals that would ban the public use of e-cigarettes and smoking.
One would ban just e-cigarettes and the other, more broad proposal, would ban all products containing nicotine including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and, potentially, chewing tobacco.
This comes as concerns continue to grow about vaping. A Greensboro hospital reported North Carolina’s first death linked to vaping last month.
“Understanding that any rule that is put forward is, it’s more education and less punitive, we want to ensure that people understand exactly the ramifications of the habits that they’re undertaking," said Phillip Tarte, New Hanover County Health Director. "Less punitive, more education.”
The proposal bans vaping and possibly smoking in the entire county, including the incorporated areas, except for private areas like homes.
When enforcing these bans, violators would be fined $50.
“I think restrictions of any second-hand smoking is good public health practice and it’s good policy, particularly when it comes to understanding the health of individuals," said Tarte. "We have that understanding when it comes to tobacco, we don’t have that understanding when it comes to those vaping products. It’s better to err on the side of caution than it is to sit back and wait.”
The plans would support those who want to quit smoking or using tobacco products by encouraging them to talk to their healthcare provider along with using the free quitting support services of the NC Tobacco Use Quitline.
“I’m not really trusting of the chemicals that are involved there,” said Robert Schiffel, DDS, a board member. “I think it’s a pretty simple process for me to consider it as one encompassing rule that encompasses both cigarettes and vaping. Seems to make more sense to me than rather separate but that’s what we’re trying to decide as a board.”
During their next meeting, the board will discuss the final draft of the proposal and approve a rule to send out for public comment. After the public has a chance to share their opinion for ten days, the board will then vote. They plan to do so in December.