In 2017, New York state expanded the Clean Indoor Air Act to ban smoking in virtually all buildings.
This meant that everyone would be protected from secondhand smoke inside their places of employment and the businesses they patronize. While some establishments may continue to authorize smoking, such as hotels, smoking is prohibiting in most others.
This safeguards people while they are inside these buildings. But restrictions for smoking outside are up to those overseeing these structures.
Lewis County legislators considered one problem they’d like to avoid based on another recently passed state law. New York now permits the recreational use of marijuana, so what happens if people want to light up a joint outside a county-owned building?
Lewis County does not have a policy covering this aspect of smoking. Legislators discussed the matter in 2011, but it was tabled. It’s believed that the lawmakers who smoked didn’t want to further limit their freedom and decided not to bring the issue up.
The Health and Human Services Legislative Committee wants to correct this oversight. Based on a policy adopted by the Lewis County Health System in 2007, committee members voted unanimously April 20 to send a resolution to the Lewis County Board of Legislators.
If passed by the whole board, the resolution would adopt the hospital’s policy or prohibiting smoking anything on a county-owned property. This includes tobacco, e-cigarettes and marijuana.
This is a sensible measure that’s long overdue. To have marijuana smoke wafting through the air right outside the seat of county government wouldn’t good — or smell good.
The County Board will take up this issue May 4, and legislators should pass it without reservation. The respiratory systems of everyone who uses county facilities will thank them. And given that they’ll need to leave the grounds completely to light up, county employees who smoke may be inspired to abandon this nasty habit.