(Corrected at 11:45 a.m.)
By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON – Anyone caught smoking or chewing tobacco on county property could face a $50 fine beginning in May, under a new law passed by the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Monday.
The law passed in a 9-5 vote, with legislators Kevin Acres R-Madrid, Sally Brothers D-Norfolk, Tony Arquiette D-Helena, Vernon “Sam” Burns D-Ogdensburg and Donald Peck R-Gouverneur voting against it.
Legislator Gregory M. Paquin D-Massena was absent.
The law doesn't officially take effect until the first week of May.
The law prohibits tobacco use, in all county-owned vehicles and on all property owned or leased by the county.
The tobbaco ban includes exceptions for people using tobacco inside privately-owned vehicles that are entering or exiting county property or driving on county roads. However, anyone chewing or smoking tobacco in a vehicle parked on county property could be fined.
This was a point of contention for some legislators who felt restricting people inside of their vehicles overstepped the government's role.
Supporters argued it was a matter of public health and could save the county money in health care costs.
The law does allow tobacco use on county-owned forest-land as long as it is 100 feet from pedestrian and multi-use trails.
The law restricts placement of ash cans, ashtrays, or other smoking waste receptacles in any area that is prohibited from smoking.
Tobacco users in violation of the law could face a maximum fine of $50 for a first offense and up to $100 for additional offenses committed within one year of a prior offense.
According to the proposed law, any police officer, peace officer or code enforcement officer may issue a ticket.
The law was proposed and supported by County Public Health Director Susan J. Hathaway who said it was in the interest of protecting public health, safety and general welfare by eliminating exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and tobacco residue.
Products restricted under the law include any manufactured product containing tobacco or nicotine, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, bidis, snus, dissolvable tobacco products, and electronic cigarette cartridges.