County considers 'unintended consequences' of smoking ban

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | Mary Perham | Categories:
Bath, N.Y. — Steuben County officials will go back and take a look at the “unintended consequences” of a proposed ban on tobacco use on county property. The county Legislature’s Human Services, Health and Education Committee agreed Wednesday to study the issue more, at the request of the full Legislature 10 days ago. Deputy Steuben County Administrator Jack Wheeler said lawmakers still intend to enact a law banning tobacco use, but will now reconsider some of the “unintended consequences” of an outright ban on all county-owned or county-leased property, as the law was originally drafted. The most notable concern is the potential effect of the law in county-run parks. Steuben County owns Mayo Park at Boyd’s Corner and Hornby Park in Hornby. Birdseye Hollow Park in Bradford and Kanakadea Park in Hornellsville are leased by the county. Kanakadea Park also is a popular campground. “Yeah, I think a ban in Kanakadea would have an effect,” said county Public Works Department Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti, whose department maintains the four parks. A ban might drive away regular park or campground users from places where tobacco use isn’t much of an issue, he feels. Also, a rigid county-wide ban would prevent smoking in all DPW vehicles. Currently, the DPW is flexible with truck drivers, Spagnoletti said. The drivers typically are out by themselves, sometimes plowing and sanding for long overtime shifts during winter storms. They also tend to drive the same truck most of the time. So irritating co-workers isn’t much of a problem, Spagnoletti said. He just asks the drivers to be considerate. Current rules in Steuben County prohibit smoking within 50 feet of the entrances to county office buildings in Bath and Corning. Municipal smoking bands have gathered steam in recent years, with the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership pushing for them. Chemung County does not have a ban, but the City of Elmira – the site of county offices – keeps tobacco users 25 feet away from building entrances, according to Yates and Allegany counties also prohibit smoking near county building entrances. Outright bans have been adopted in Ontario, Schuyler and Seneca counties.
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