Feedback: County Smoking Ban Begins Saturday

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St. Lawrence County Real Property Tax Office worker Vernon "Spike" Cole has been a smoker for years.

He says he lights up on his work breaks to relieve the stress of his job.

But, once a smoking and tobacco ban on all county-owned or leased property goes into effect on Saturday, he will either have to go elsewhere, stop smoking or run the risk of being fined.

"They're picking on us smokers. I smoke. I enjoy it. I've smoked for 40 years," said Cole.
 
While smokers are allowed to gather around smoking receptacles in specially designated smoke-free perimeters outside county buildings, the new county law forbids smoking and the use of tobacco products on county property - even in the privacy of an individual's private car.

"I think they're going overboard as far as not being able to smoke in your own vehicle," said Cole.
 
Between 25 to 35 percent of the county's workforce are smokers.

The county will host smoking cessation programs for employees later this month.
 
While county officials are hoping for voluntary compliance, the tobacco ban does carry a fine of up to $50 for the first offense and up to $100 for additional offenses within a 12 month period.

"We really want people to be healthier and be able to have much happier, more productive lives," said county Public Health Director Susan Hathaway. 

The county is posting more than 30 signs alerting workers and visitors about the tobacco ban.

The law allows any police officer or code enforcement officer to issue tickets to offenders.

County officials say the ban not only protects public health, but also eliminates exposure to second-hand smoke.

 

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Saturday, September 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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