On Monday, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance that will ban the use of combustible tobacco and e-cigarettes in a number of public spaces throughout the county.
The ordinance will prohibit smoking and vaping in county, town and city buildings, vehicles and grounds, as well as in public places in the county like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. It does not apply to private residences, private vehicles, streets, sidewalks, cigar bars, vaping shops, private clubs, designated smoking areas as permitted by state law and a handful of other exemptions.
“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 Phillip Tarte, the county’s public health director, via a press release. “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 country’s public health department will begin an education campaign to make residents, businesses and municipalities aware of the ban. Once the ban goes into effect Feb. 1, 2021, violators could be cited but could also receive a verbal warning.
“Our desire is a healthy community across the board, so our first option will always be education over punitive action,” Tarte said.
New Hanover County is located in the southern tip of the state and is home to approximately 235,000 residents.