Pasquotank may include park areas in tobacco, vaping ban
By Reggie Ponder
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Pasquotank County officials are exploring the possibility of including county park areas in a proposed county ordinance banning the use of tobacco and vapor products in county buildings, grounds and vehicles.
The ordinance was on the agenda for a possible vote when the Pasquotank Board of Commissioners met Monday night. However, County Attorney Mike Cox recommended commissioners not vote since only six of the seven board members were present. Commissioner Jeff Dixon was absent from the meeting.
The board plans to revisit the proposed ordinance at its Aug. 20 meeting, which also will give Cox time to discuss with Elizabeth City officials the possibility of including park areas in the ordinance. Cox explained Monday that the city of Elizabeth City currently allows smoking at county parks and playground areas. In order to be consistent, he said, the county also would need to exempt parks and playgrounds from the ban. That is, unless the city agrees to a change in its policy.
The board’s Special Projects Committee discussed the proposed smoking ban in May. One of the factors spurring the county’s consideration of the ordinance has been complaints about smoking outside the courthouse. The proposed ordinance would ban tobacco use on courthouse grounds but Cox noted that the sidewalks adjacent to the courthouse are not within the county’s jurisdiction.
Lisa Phillips, the tobacco-free living coordinator under Partnerships to Improve Community Health, an initiative working with Albemarle Regional Health Services, has noted that the campuses of College of The Albemarle, Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and local public schools are already tobacco-free.
Phillips has encouraged the county to educate the public about the ordinance, and to make it clear the ordinance is meant to protect public health, not condemn smokers.
According to state research Phillips has shared with county officials, tobacco use remains “the leading cause of preventable death and disease” and contributes to the leading causes of death in Pasquotank, including heart diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases.
Staff Writer Jon Hawley contributed to this report.