By WECT Staff | November 16, 2020 at 4:57 PM EST – Updated November 16 at 8:25 PM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously voted in favor of implementing stricter regulations on smoking and vaping in the county. The updated ordinance will go into effect on Feb. 1, 2021.
However, the ban will prohibit smoking and vaping in privately-owned places like malls, child care facilities, restaurants, retail stores, gaming facilities, and more. On the county-owned side of things, smoking and vaping would be prohibited in all county, city, and town buildings, vehicles, and grounds – unless expressly designated for smoking.
“This ordinance aligns the expectations of vaping with traditional cigarette smoking in most public places, and protects residents from unwanted inhalation of second hand smoke and e-cigarette vapors,” said Public Health Director Phillip Tarte. “With no regulation in place for vaping and e-cigarette use, residents are unintentionally exposed to harmful substances in what seems like unlikely places, like a theater or retail store. As we learn more about vaping and associated health risks, it’s important as a community to take action.”
The ordinance will apply throughout New Hanover County, including the city and beach towns. Enforcement of the ordinance differs depending on whether the infraction is vaping or combustible tobacco use, but both provide the option of an oral warning.
The ordinance does not apply to private residences, private vehicles, streets, sidewalks, vaping shops, designated smoking areas as permitted by NC law and other exemptions as listed.
“Our desire is a healthy community across the board, so our first option will always be education over punitive action,” Tarte said. “We’ll be continuing and increasing our efforts in education and sharing resources on smoking cessation. Quitting smoking or vaping is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Some benefits, like lower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved circulation are seen within two weeks, while risk of heart disease and cancer continue to decrease over time.”
Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.