ELIZABETHTOWN — Safety of smokers and pedestrians was cited recently as Essex County prepared to eliminate a smoking area directly adjacent to a roadway.
When the County Board of Supervisors went tobacco-free in and around county buildings in November 2011, it also created several smoking zones at least 100 feet away from those facilities.
But Jessica Darney Buehler of the County Department of Public Health told the County Human Services Committee recently that the smoking area at the back corner of the county parking lot off Park Street in Elizabethtown has smokers standing on the sidewalk next to the road.
People are also walking around or through the smokers to use the sidewalk, she said.
“Our main concern was the tobacco-use area on Park Street, the safety of it,” Buehler said. “Folks are walking through the area.”
FINAL VOTE AUG. 5
Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), who chairs the County Tobacco Policy Subcommittee, said the elimination of the Park Street smoking area and relocation of others is necessary.
The county complex has another smoking area that smokers will be directed to use instead of the one on Park Street.
“It’s basically eliminating a problem area for many reasons,” Preston said.
The Human Services Committee voted unanimously to make the changes. It gets another vote at Ways and Means on July 29 and a final vote at the board’s regular meeting Aug. 5.
The other smoking areas, which might be shifted a few feet or so, are: the south lawn of the County Fairgrounds, Route 9N, Westport; County Government Center, Court Street, Elizabethtown, at the east side of the maintenance garage behind the main parking lot; the Mental Health Building, Court Street, Elizabethtown, at the back corner of the lot on the grass; the Public Safety Building, Stowersville Road, Lewis, the grass on the west side of the building; and the County Public Works and Transportation Complex, Route 9, Lewis, at the north side of the salt shed.
The Board of Supervisors has so far been reluctant to make the county complex and other facilities smoke-free by eliminating the smoking areas, out of fear smokers would crowd public sidewalks.
Sheriff Richard Cutting has said it could be a problem at the County Jail, because smokers would have to walk through a swampy area or across the road, and there could be security issues.
County employees who violate the tobacco-use policy are subject to disciplinary action that could range from reprimand to dismissal.
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