Lewis County mulls smoking ban in county facilities

LOWVILLE — The prospect of someone legally smoking a joint directly in front of the county office and court building door was enough for Lewis County legislators to revisit — for the first time since 2011 — making county building campuses entirely “smoke free.”

The five members of the Health and Human Services Legislative Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday afternoon to send a policy resolution to the entire board for a vote that would make “county buildings and grounds” smoke free. The law explicitly includes the use of tobacco, e-cigarettes and marijuana.

To date, the county does not have a policy on the books about smoking on its properties.

“Back in 2011 it was brought up and then tabled. We kind of know the reason why,” quipped County Attorney Joan McNichol to the laughter of board members present, “But certain members of the board were smokers. It was tabled and never brought back up, although the hospital implemented a policy back in 2007.”

The proposed policy is based upon that Lewis County Health System policy with the addition of marijuana, Ms. McNichol told the board.

The court system has also been approaching the need for this policy recently, County Manager Ryan Piche confirmed.

“This came up with renewed interest after the marijuana legislation passed,” Mr. Piche said, “Now you can step right outside our door and smoke marijuana. I think in the past people weren’t as concerned about people stepping out of court or out of a probation meeting to smoke a cigarette. That mood changes a little bit when maybe they’re smoking something else.”

County employees who smoke will be required to leave the campus of their building to smoke if the resolution passes the full board’s review in their May 4 regular meeting. Those working at the county seat at the corner of State and Trinity streets that will likely be required to walk out at least to the sidewalk to smoke if the measure is passed.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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