Smoking Ban Could Be Expanded
Commissioners will take a look Thursday at long-standing complaints about smoking at the County Courthouse.
Lawyers and others have complained that they don’t like walking through smoking areas outside the courthouse in Lexington where smokers gather because smoking is banned indoors. They want the ban to include outdoor areas.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Fred McClure and Clerk of Court Brian Shipwash also have expressed concerns and would like commissioners to address the issue.
State law gives local governments authority to adopt stricter bans beyond government buildings to other public property. Guilford County has a smoking ban in all public buildings that includes city and town buildings. Smokers also must move about 50 feet away from buildings.
County bans are becoming more common. Durham and Orange counties have extended their bans to some sidewalks and bus stops. Local governments also can ban smoking in public unenclosed areas and in government-owned vehicles. Violations are complaint driven. Fines usually range from $25 to $50 if a citation is issued.
Last year, attorney Irvin R. Sink encouraged commissioners to consider a specific ban in a letter to Layton Long, Davidson County health director. Commissioners have that letter in their agenda package.
“A ban of smoking on courthouse property is justified for aesthetic and sanitary reasons in addition to obvious health reasons,” Sink said.
Triad: Guilford County has a comprehensive ban in all public buildings in all cities and towns. Randolph and Davidson counties have bans in county buildings. There are no written regulations in Forsyth County.
Authority: County health boards can pass smoking bans on their own. If county commissioners endorse a ban, it becomes effective countywide and cities and towns can’t “opt out.”