NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Beginning today, February 1, New Hanover County’s Smoking and Vaping Ordinance, prohibiting the use of combustible tobacco and e-cigarettes in public places, goes into effect throughout the county.
The 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. Areas where smoking and vaping will be prohibited include county, town and city vehicles, buildings, and grounds, and public places like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
“Evolving research shows that aerosols produced by e-cigarettes contain heavy metals and toxins, and there is still a lot we don’t know about the health effects of those vapors,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “So this rule is a comprehensive approach to protect our residents and visitors from known and unknown effects of second hand smoking and e-cigarette vapors.”
The ordinance applies throughout New Hanover County, including the city and beach towns, but does not apply to private residences, private vehicles, streets, sidewalks, vaping shops, designated smoking areas as permitted by NC law and several other exemptions, which are outlined at Health.NHCgov.com. Enforcement differs depending on whether the infraction is vaping or combustible tobacco use, but both provide the option of an oral warning.
“Public Health’s focus through this ordinance is on education and not merely punitive action,” continued Fayko. “Our team will be increasing our outreach and education efforts about smoking cessation, providing important resources for businesses and organizations, and working to help our residents stop smoking and vaping so they can lead healthier lives.”
The county has already started placing signs around county-owned facilities indicating that smoking and vaping are prohibited, and Public Health is working with area business and municipalities to place additional signage around the county. Materials are also available to download for establishments to display here.
The Health and Human Services Board conducted months of in-depth research and revisions, informed by community feedback and public health guidance, and approved the Smoking and Vaping Rule in October 2020. The rule, as required by North Carolina Public Health law, was then approved by the Board of Commissioners through an ordinance in November 2020.
Free smoking cessation resources are available through the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch. Additionally, residents can call the NC Smoking and E-Cigarette Use Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit QuitLineNC.com for free quitting support services.
For more information about the ordinance and additional cessation resources, visit Health.NHCgov.com.