WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Things could soon get much harder for tobacco users in New Hanover County as the Health and Human Services Board is set to consider the adoption of a revised rule prohibiting tobacco and electronic smoking devices in the county. While a rule was adopted by the Health Board in December to prohibit smoking in public spaces, it will ultimately come down to the Board of County Commissioners to decide if the prohibitions become law.
The newly revised rule would exclude rehabilitation settings from the prohibition, and include private sidewalks. State law currently dictates where a local government can regulate tobacco use.
“The drafted rule includes the prohibition of use of tobacco and e-cigarettes in county, town and city buildings, vehicles and grounds, as well as in public places in New Hanover County, like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues and sidewalks. This is a revised version of the rule adopted last December. Revisions include an exception to the rule in group therapeutic rehabilitation settings and an expansion further prohibiting tobacco and e-cigarette use on private sidewalks that are accessible to the public,” according to the county.
Like before, the county is seeking public input on the possible prohibition and can do so online by noon on Aug. 14, the meeting will take place on Aug. 18.
Previous iterations of the tobacco ban received nearly 200 online comments and residents spoke during a December Health and Human Services Board meeting on the topic. At that meeting the Health and Human Services Board voted unanimously to approve the restrictions.
Current smoking restrictions do not include e-cigarettes in restaurants or other places that traditional smoking is prohibited.
“At this time, electronic cigarettes are not included in the Smoke Free Restaurants and Bars Law. However, because the impact to public health is still unknown, and to reduce confusion when attempting to enforce policies, we encourage all restaurants and bars to be progressive in their commitment to public health by implementing a smoke free tobacco policy that includes electronic cigarettes,” according to New Hanover county.
A list of places that people would be able to use tobacco as well as where they would be prohibited has been provided by the county to help smokers get a better idea of what is being proposed.
“The meeting will be held via teleconference and the public can listen to the meeting by dialing 415-655-0003 at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, August 18. When prompted for the meeting identification number, press 808-594-284, then the pound sign (#). If favorable, the rule will move to the Board of County Commissioners for their review and approval at a subsequent regular meeting before becoming effective,” according to the county.
Places people WOULD be able to smoke/vape
- Personal residence
- Personal vehicle
- Designated areas of unenclosed sections in restaurants and bars.
- Privately owned unenclosed areas (business parking lot, business patio, etc.)
- Smoking/E-cigarette shop
- Cigar bar
- Designated smoking/vaping guest room in a lodging establishment
- Private club
- Movie, TV, theater or other live production set, only for the actor portraying smoking/vaping
- A public area at such time group therapeutic rehabilitation is being conducted
Places people would NOT be able to smoke/vape
- County, Town and City buildings
- County, Town and City vehicles
- Any County, Town and City streets and grounds, except where expressly permitted
- County, Town and City parks, playgrounds, athletic field and trails except where expressly permitted
- Bus stops on County, Town or City grounds
- Public sidewalks owned by the County, Town or City
- Private sidewalks accessible and open to the general public
- Public Transportation
- Child Care Facilities
- Shopping Malls & Retail Stores
- Polling Places
- Public Restrooms
- Restaurants and Bars (except where expressly permitted in unenclosed areas)
- Galleries, Libraries and Museums
- Theaters, Entertainment and Sports Arenas
- Gaming facilities including Internet Sweepstakes
- Lobbies, hallways and common areas in multi-unit residential facilities (apartment buildings, retirement facilities, nursing homes, etc.)
- Offices and commercial establishments where the public is invited or permitted.