Madison aims to snuff out tobacco use on county property - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison aims to snuff out tobacco use on county property

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Smokers currently have a designated area on property. Smokers currently have a designated area on property.

Madison County leaders are working to come up with strict new rules to prohibit tobacco use on county properties.

County Commission Chairman Dale Strong has called for the development of a new policy, which he called long overdue. "If you come to the courthouse to get into this facility, you have to walk through a smoking court  to come in to pay your taxes, to get your tag for your vehicle," he said.

Smoking is already banned inside county buildings but Strong urged fellow commission members to extend that prohibition to include county vehicles and outdoor areas, including the well known smokers' refuge on the porch just outside the county courthouse. "That smoke comes in through our ventilation system and blows it throughout the courthouse," said Strong.  "So it's infringing on others' rights." 

The proposal would not cover merely cigarettes. "Tobacco products," continued Strong, "whether it's smoking, whether it's dipping, smokeless tobacco, we've had instances where employees have had other products dumped on them. We want to eliminate this."

The proposal got a dim reception from smokers at the courthouse.

"I think it is unfair because people need to smoke," exclaimed smoker Reighnettia Cooper.  "People be nervous when they come to court and folks want to come outside and get their little couple hits in before they go in there. I'm out here smoking because I'm nervous. I need my cigarette."

"I think it's a great idea," disagreed Dr. Lawrence Robey, Madison County Health Officer. "One of the problems you have with second hand smoke is, yes, you can get it outside the buildings but with people standing around outside, you open the door and the air currents waft the smoke back in to the building, plus you have problems with debris and littering." 

Strong admitted Madison County may be behind other entities such as Huntsville Hospital or the city of Huntsville, which have already cracked down on tobacco use on their premises. "This is something that's already occurred in other cities, the state," he said. "We're a little delayed in getting to the process but I think it's a policy that will be good for the people of Madison County." 

Strong hoped to have the rough proposal for a tobacco ban fleshed out into a concrete ordinance the county commission can consider within about 8 weeks.

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