GARLAND — The town of Garland has enacted an ordinance that bans smoking in all the town’s facilities, as well as public places throughout the town’s limits, following a recent public hearing during which no one spoke in opposition.
The smoke-free ordinance was approved unanimously by the Garland Board of Commissioners, which considered two different smoke-free ordinances during its meeting last week. One ordinance presented specifically addressed only town-owned and leased buildings and government grounds, while the other additionally included town-owned vehicles and any public place.
N.C. General Statute 130A-498 authorizes local governments to adopt and enforce ordinances regulating smoking in local governments buildings, local government grounds, local vehicles or in public places.
“This gives the town the ability to enforce these laws,” board attorney Joel Starling said. “As it stands right now, state laws don’t prohibit smoking in all public places, so this, first and foremost, would allow the town the opportunity to do that.”
Town board members took advantage of that opportunity.
Prior to the board vote, resident John Jones spoke in favor of the ordinance, mentioning the health dangers of secondhand smoke and the irritant posed by smoking indoors.
“If somebody wants to do that, that’s your position if you want to smoke,” said Jones. “Every individual that wants to smoke, I don’t have a problem with that as long as it’s not interfering with the air that I’ve got to breathe. When you’re going to intrude on somebody in a public place or pollute somebody else’s air, I think that’s wrong.”
Mayor Winifred Murphy cited polls conducted by state universities in reference to smoking.
“Polls conducted by North Carolina State and Elon University show that citizens are becoming more worried about the health effects of secondhand smoke,” Murphy stated. “The Elon University study found that 8 out of 10 state citizens believed that secondhand smoke is a threat to their health and over one-third favor a smoking ban. There are serious repercussions and health risks to children, as well as adults, in reference to secondhand smoke.”
Commissioner Ralph Smith made a motion to approve the ordinance prohibiting smoking in local government buildings, grounds, vehicles and public places. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Matthew Register and the ordinance unanimously approved.
“Board of Commissioners of the town of Garland desires to prohibit smoking within any building owned or leased by the town of Garland in order to promote the health and safety of the citizens of the town of Garland,” the ordinance read in part.
With the vote, the town’s Code of Ordinances was amended by adding a section, 130.06,which offered definitions for the places where smoking would now be prohibited.
Starling reviewed those definitions during the board’s discussion. “Grounds,” he noted, shall mean an unenclosed area owned, leased or occupied by the town, while “smoking” shall mean the inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying of a lighted pipe, cigarette or other combustible tobacco product. “Public place” is defined by N.C. General Statute as “an enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted,”
The attorney then offered the full text of the ordinance, which was subsequently approved.
“Smoking shall not be permitted by any of the following: any building owned or leased by the town; any grounds owned or leased by the town; any town vehicle; any public place,” said Starling. “The manager or person in charge of the building, grounds or public place shall conspicuously post signs stating that smoking is not permitted. Any person who continues to smoke in any of the locations listed in (the ordinance), in violation of this section, following notice by the person in charge or his or her designee that smoking is not permitted, shall be subject to a civil penalty in the amount of $50.”
If the penalty is not paid or appealed within 30 days of its issuance, a delinquency charge of $25 will be added to the penalty.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.