Archived Story

Tobacco ban takes effect Oct. 1

Published 5:37pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Smoke’em if you got’em — until Oct. 1 at county offices and the Beaufort County Courthouse.

That’s when a ban on smoking within 50 feet of all county offices takes effect.

Earlier this summer, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance that prohibits smoking, the use of other tobacco products and e-cigarettes in county buildings, county vehicles and within 50 feet of all county buildings. The commissioners chose make the ban effective Oct. 1 so county employees and the public would have time adjust to the prohibitions.

Anyone violating the ordinance faces up to a $50 fine. Law-enforcement officers will enforce the ordinance. County employees who violate the policy shall be subject to disciplinary actions consistent with the county’s human-resources policies.

“State law allows county commissioners to protect the health of public workers and visitors to county property by prohibiting smoking and the use of tobacco products. This is a major step in creating a healthier and cleaner work environment for all of our staff and the public,” said Randell Woodruff, county manager, in a news release issued by the Beaufort County Health Department.

The ordinance, unanimously approved by the commissioners, no longer allows smoking, the use of tobacco products or e-cigarettes in any building owned, leased or occupied by the county, in any vehicle owned, leased or controlled by the county and within 50 feet of all County buildings.

Each of the seven municipalities in the county — Aurora, Bath, Belhaven, Chocowinity, Pantego, Washington and Washington Park — may adopt a similar ban by approving a similar ordinance.

“According to the surgeon general, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Sara Graham, the county’s interim health director. “It’s time for employees and citizens in Beaufort County to be protected from this known health hazard.”

Secondhand smoke is known to increase the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, heart attack and lung disease in nonsmokers.

“No smoking and use of tobacco products prohibited” signs will be purchased by the Beaufort County Health Department with funds from the Community Transformation Grant Project.

County officials expect the measure to save money over the long-term by reducing health care costs for county employees. Employees and residents are encouraged to talk with their health-care provider about quitting and use the free quitting support services of the North Carolina Tobacco Use Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

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