Steuben ponders smoking ban on county properties

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Sunday, September 9, 2012 | Mary Perham | Categories:
Bath, NY — Tobacco users may need another place to light up or chew, with Steuben County legislators considering a tobacco ban on all county property. The county Legislature’s Human Services, Health and Education Committee unanimously adopted a draft law prohibiting the use of tobacco on county-owned or leased property. The prohibition would include county offices located in Corning and Hornell. Deputy County Administrator Jack Wheeler said complaints from those entering county buildings and lobbying from county Public Health officials led the committee to approve Wednesday the draft law banning tobacco. Several years ago, the county decided to restrict smoking to within 50 feet of county office entrances. However, tobacco users have tended to encroach on the 50-foot perimeter since then, Wheeler said. In some areas – such as the small courtyard between the main county building and the county Clerk’s office – a strict application of the 50-foot application prevents any smoking, he said. Banning smoking has gatherered steam in recent years, with municipalities restricting smoking in certain areas. 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 Allegany County also restricts smoking to 25 feet of entrances. In Yates County, county workers are not allowed to smoke at county building entrances, the Web site reported. However, Ontario, Schuyler and Seneca counties recently adopted outright bans on county owned or leased properties, according to the organization. Locally, the tobacco-free initiative is endorsed by the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership, which has teamed up 10 years ago with the American Lung Association, American Heart Association, and the Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben health departments to work towards tobacco-use prevention and cessation. Since then, the American Cancer Society and a variety of youth, school, civic organizations, and hospitals to join in, and allowed for increased grant funds, according to the group. The measure will be presented to the Legislature when it meets Sept. 24. If approved, the draft would be up for final adoption after a public hearing at the regular board meeting in October. The real question is whether the ban is enforceable, Wheeler said. “It’s going to be hard for our staff to keep an eye on things,” Wheeler said. “But if we’re going to hold our employees to a standard, it’s only fair the public be held to the same standard, too.”
The Steuben Courier
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