New Hanover County Commissioners approves ordinance limiting e-cigarette and combustible tobacco use in the county


Photo by CDC on Unsplash

This image depicted a test tube rack that had been stocked with examples of various electronic cigarettes, referred to as e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, and vaping pens. These items would undergo testing inside a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory environment.

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

On Nov. 16, the New Hanover County Commissioners met and discussed the use of e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco in the county. Tobacco Control Laws define combustible tobacco as “any combustible tobacco product that is designed to be smoked – other than cigarettes – including cigars, cigarillos, little cigars, blunts, and bidis or beedis (small, flavored filterless Indian cigarettes).” 

Following their meeting, the county commissioners approved an ordinance that will limit the use of e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco.

This ordinance which will take effect on Feb. 1, 2021, will “prohibit [the] use of combustible tobacco and e-cigarettes in [public places] New Hanover County.”

This includes “county, town, and city buildings, vehicles, grounds, parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and trails, bus stops, theaters, entertainment and sports arenas, gaming facilities, common or public areas of office and residential facilities (lobbies, hallways, or elevators), public transportation, child care facilities, malls and retail stores, restaurants and bars (except where expressly permitted), polling places, public restrooms, galleries, libraries and museums.” 

Photo by VapeClubMY on Unsplash

However, smoking and vaping will still be permitted in the following capacities, “personal residence or vehicle, designated rooms in lodgings and enclosed areas of bars and restaurants, privately owned areas (business parking lots and patios), public areas where group therapeutic rehabilitation is being conducted, smoking/e-cigarette shops, cigar bars, private clubs and movie and TV production sets (where actors are portraying characters who smoke or vape). 

According to a press release from the county, this ordinance officially confirms the New Hanover County Health and Human Services (HHS) Board Smoke and Vaping Rule which was adopted on Oct. 16, 2020. 

“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 Public Health Director Phillip Tarte in the 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.”

Once the ordinance goes into effect in Feb, signs will be placed where smoking and vaping is prohibited. 

“Enforcement of the ordinance differs depending on whether the infraction is vaping or combustible tobacco use, but both provide the option of an oral warning,” according to the press release. 

To read the ordinance in full you view the document here. More information about the rule can be found on the county’s health website.

Photo by Don Delfin Almonte on Unsplash