Orange County, N.C. — Orange County has officially banned smoking in public places.
The Board of County Commissioners voted 6-1 on Tuesday to approve the smoking ban for property owned by county and municipal governments, including parks and sidewalks. The ban also extends to private property where the public is invited.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other state-owned facilities will continue to operate under existing smoking regulations, officials said.
"This is about education and empowerment," said Dr. Colleen Bridger, director of the Orange County Health Department. "What we really want is to make sure that we're helping people understand where smoking is allowed and where smoking isn't allowed."
The idea of the ban first surfaced two years ago, when a group of high school students approached the Board of health with the request. A public hearing on the issue was held Oct. 24.
"I am just grateful that the citizens of Orange County will have fresh air to breathe when they are in public places," County Commissioner Steve Yuhasz said.
The ban will take effect July 1, with a six-month educational period beginning Jan. 1. The fine for violating the ban will be $25.
Learn more about the ban online.