Williamsburg poised to pass citywide smoking ban
If you want to light up a cigarette inside a building open to the public or a work place in Williamsburg, then you better smoke while you can.
The Williamsburg City Council held the first reading of an anti smoking ordinance during its regular monthly meeting Monday.
A second reading of the ordinance is planned for the Feb. 11 council meeting when the council will vote on the issue.
If approved, the smoking ban would technically go into effect that day.
Mayor Roddy Harrison said that everyone would then have 30 days to make preparations before police start enforcing the ordinance.
Harrison said the decision to implement a smoking ban came down to the public's health.
"I've smoked. I see both sides. Our job is to make sure we protect everybody," he added.
The ordinance applies to buildings open to the public or used as work places and prohibits smoking within 15 feet of main entrances or exits to those buildings and a "reasonable distance" from other entrances and exits.
Harrison said he looked at other ordinances enacted by numerous other cities when drawing up this ordinance and that he feels 15 feet is a reasonable distance.
The ban includes places like bingo halls, convention facilities, schools, healthcare facilities, hotels, polling places, restrooms, shopping malls and recreation facilities where children are at play among the 25 specific enclosed buildings identified in the ordinance.
Councilman Troy Sharp asked if the ordinance also applied to e-cigarettes.
Harrison said it did not although the health department would have preferred that e-cigarettes be included in the ban.
Harrison said he found extensive research to back up the negative effects of second hand cigarette smoke but that he didn't find the same volume of evidence to back the banning of e-cigarettes.
The ordinance does not apply to private residences unless they are used as a childcare, adult day care or a healthcare facility.
Also excluded are hotel and motel rooms that are designated as smoking and private and semiprivate nursing homerooms where one or more occupants are smokers and have requested a smoking room.
No more than 20 percent of hotel or motel rooms may be designated as smoking rooms under the proposed ordinance.
The number of hotel or motel smoking rooms can't be increased and may only be decreased under the terms of the ordinance.
In addition, retail tobacco stores are excluded from the ordinance provided that smoke from these establishments does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.
The ordinance requires owners, operators, managers and other people in control of a public place or place of employment to clearly and conspicuously post "no smoking" signs.
Williamsburg police and/or code enforcement officers will enforce the ordinance.
Each violation of the ordinance is treated as a separate offense and is punishable by up to a $150 fine.
The Corbin City Commission implemented a smoking ban in December 2011, which prohibits smoking in similar locations and within 25 feet of main entrances and exits.
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