Update to county-wide smoking ban approved by Health and Human Services Board

Update to county-wide smoking ban approved by Health and Human Services Board

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board unanimously approved an update to a rule prohibiting smoking and vaping in the county on Tuesday morning. Now, it is up to County Commissioners to give a final approval on the rule before it becomes official.

First approved by the board in December of 2019, the rule would effectively ban smoking and tobacco use throughout the county in public spaces. The update to the rule would now include private sidewalks and allow smoking in ‘therapeutic’ settings.

“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.

The board announced the proposed changes several weeks ago and allowed for public comment on the topic.

According to county officials, approximately 80 comments were received via online submission and email from July 28 to Aug. 14, and all comments were sent to the Health and Human Services Board upon the comment period closing on Aug. 14.

The board then went on, without discussion on the changes, to vote on the approval which passed unanimously --- but the ban is not yet law. In order to become part of the county code of ordinances the County Commissioners must vote to approve the ban.

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
  • Elevators
  • 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.

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