Local News

Lee County considers snuffing out smoking in public buildings

Posted August 18, 2008 2:06 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2008 10:48 p.m. EDT

— Lee County could become the latest North Carolina government to ban smoking in public buildings. In a meeting Monday night, the Board of Commissioners considered pushing smokers outside, but decided to take the issue up again in September.

The proposal started in the office of District Attorney Susan Doyle. "Two pregnant employees in the DA's office ... have concerns about secondhand smoke, " County Manager John Crumpton said.

The employees work in an office next to a break room, where smoking is allowed. Doyle submitted a letter on their behalf to Crumpton, urging the county to consider a ban.

Although 45 of North Carolina's 100 counties – including Wake, Durham and Cumberland –have passed smoking bans in county buildings, it comes as no surprise that the Lee County proposal has ignited some resistance. The leaf remains a key part of the economy and landscape.

Outside the courthouse, George Muchison made the argument for the opposition.

"People in there are going to court. They want to ... have a cigarette. Their nerves be shot," he reasoned.

Crumpton agreed, "There are some attorneys who smoke in the building and who have some concerns about having a place where they can smoke in the building and where their clients can smoke."

Still, he knows that times are changing. "I think employees now have an expectation that they work in a smoke-free environment," he added.

If the proposal passes next month, smokers will be banished from the building. Those caught lighting up inside will face a fine up to $100.