(BLOOMFIELD) - After July 1, there will probably be less tobacco smoke hovering around the entrances to county buildings.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that as a follow-up to a soon-to-be-effective statewide smoking ban in public buildings and places of employment, the Greene County Commissioners enacted a no-smoking ordinance of its own.
Effective next month, Indiana law requires that governmental entities comply with certain smoking provisions.
The county has had a tobacco-free ordinance effective inside county buildings since 1998, but the new regulations expand the rules to incorporate with the new state law as well as adding new restrictions to smoking near building entrances and in county-owned vehicles.
The Greene County ban on smoking, chewing, consuming or use of tobacco products pertains to any public building or place of employment under the care and control of the Board of Commissioners, including facilities leased from public purposes.
The ordinance applies to the Greene County Courthouse, Courthouse Annex, Greene County Jail, the 4-H Building (Extension Service) at the fairgrounds, as well as the highway garages.
Under terms of the agreement, a person would be prohibited from smoking in a place of employment or within 8 feet of a public entrance to any building that's under the care and control of the county.
All ashtrays and smoke paraphernalia will be removed from within 8 feet of the building entrances.
The ordinance also bans smoking inside any vehicle owned, leased or operated by the county.
All county employees will be notified of new smoking regulations by their department heads or officeholders. Signs will be erected outside the buildings reading "State Law Prohibits Smoking Within 8 feet of this Entrance." Inside the building a sign must be displayed that will read "Smoking is Prohibited by State Law."
There are penalties for violating the ordinance - which will include a Class B infraction for each violation, unless three or more prior smoking-related infractions are registered. Then, the offense becomes a Class A infraction, which would carry a $50 fine.
A person who is found to have violated the ordinance a second time within a one-year period may be fined up to $100.
Commissioners were presented with an alternate version of the smoking ordinance by commissioner's attorney Marilyn Hartman that called for the entire courthouse square area to be designated a no-smoking zone.
Hartman stated, "The Smoking Cessation group would like to have the courthouse square smoke-free."
However, Hartman says the state law only says that smoking has to be prevented within 8 feet from the building entrances.
Commissioner's President Steve Lindsey added, "I think the 8 feet from the door is OK. I understand them wanting to go countywide smoke-free, but I don't think we really need people (courthouse employees) walking a block away to smoke."
Enforcement was deemed a problem and commissioner Rick Graves said, "I would have preferred to ban all, period, but I don't think we can enforce it."
Currently, smoking is allowed just outside the east entrance to the courthouse in a designated "smoker's shack."
There may be some changes coming to this smoking area.
Graves was successful in lobbying support from fellow commissioners Lindsey and Kermit Holtsclaw to discuss finding another location for the shack.
"The smoking shed needs to go. It needs to be relocated. It needs to go away." Graves stated in suggesting that courthouse maintenance supervisor Tim Carpenter be contacted and asked to find a new location for the enclosed glass structure.
"I think it makes it hard for the security to enforce down there. People in the smoking shed can just wonder out and talk to people as they come in. We need to get rid of that ashtray and we need to get rid of that smoking shed. If they are going to smoke here (at the courthouse) they need to smoke somewhere else."
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to email@example.com