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Changes To State And Local Smoking Laws

Governor Pat McCrory signed the last bill on his desk last night, a 58-page technical corrections bill, which tweaks wording and fixes typos in current law. It also contains at least one policy change, allowing state jails to sell electronic cigarettes to inmates. The North Carolina Sheriffs Association pushed for the law because so many inmates suffer from nicotine withdrawal in jail or prison, where smoking has been banned since 2010. A tax bill passed by the state legislature earlier this session would have banned inmates from obtaining e-cigarettes.  

Meanwhile, Mecklenburg County commissioners are considering two ordinances to restrict smoking. One would prohibit smoking near government buildings, while the other would ban all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in county parks and greenways. About two dozen residents gathered at a public forum last night at the government center in Uptown to discuss the regulations. 

Health director Marcus Plescia says he has pushed for the changes because he wants to make smoking less visible to prevent teens from starting. He says 20 percent of Mecklenburg ccounty residents are smokers and his goal is to cut that percentage in half by 2010. The county will hold another public hearing on September 2, and commissioners vote on September 17.