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County facility smoking ban OK'd

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, September 10, 2018

Smoking and vaping are now banned at the Pasquotank County Courthouse, other county facilities and county vehicles. 

Commissioners voted 5-2 last week to enact a new ordinance banning tobacco and vapor products on county-owned property, county staff reported last week. Violators will be fined $50, according to the ordinance.

Voting for the ban were board Chairman Cecil Perry and Vice Chairman Bill Sterritt, and Commissioners Joe Winslow, Jeff Dixon and Charles Jordan.

Voting against the ban were Commissioners Lloyd Griffin and Frankie Meads. Griffin also voted against the ordinance last month. It was in fact his vote against the ban in August that resulted in commissioners having to take the second vote last week to enact the ordinance.

Commissioners took up the ordinance in response to public complaints about smoking at the courthouse, and with encouragement from local health officials who say smoking bans are becoming the norm at government facilities. 

The new ordinance bans tobacco and vapor use in county buildings, on county grounds, and within county vehicles. The ban does not apply to tobacco use on streets, sidewalks and other property not owned or leased by Pasquotank. The ordinance requires the county to put up signs announcing the ban at all facilities subject to the ordinance.

The county is also looking at a followup measure that would ban tobacco and vapor use at public parks.

County officials explained last month that Pasquotank cannot unilaterally ban tobacco and vapor use at public parks it co-owns with the city of Elizabeth City. Commissioners directed county staff to approach the city about extending the ban to parks.

Griffin said he doesn’t oppose banning smoking at some county facilities, including the courthouse. However, he said the ordinance would be difficult to enforce at some county facilities — particularly convenience sites where people drop off trash and recyclables. Those sites may only have one attendant, and that person would be forced to leave the property to smoke, Griffin said.

Griffin also said the ordinance would be hard to enforce at parks, particularly when large events are held there and draw people from out of town.

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