HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. -- Orange County could soon be the next county in the Triangle to ban smoking in all public places. The Board of Health voted to move the proposal forward Wednesday night.
They heard from the public, both in person and through surveys. Wednesday's meeting was the last hurdle supporters of a smoking ban had to clear before putting the proposal in front of county commissioners.
"Please consider limiting the sidewalk rule perhaps to areas where people might congregate like a bus stop," said Chapel Hill resident Terri Tyson.
Orange County's Board of Health gave them the go ahead vote 10-1.
"We need to reduce the general public's exposure to things that can harm them and second hand smoke is one of those things," said Orange County Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger.
If commissioners approve the ban, all public areas would be smoke free from parks to shopping malls and even sidewalks in front of restaurants. One smoker we spoke with said the ban might impact business.
"The majority of the people I see here regularly are also smokers and if I could not come here and step out for a cigarette at night it might deter me from coming here," said Hillsborough resident Alexander Sieck.
Bridger says even though 80 percent of those surveyed were in favor of the ban she did not want to minimize the feedback they got from those who were against it.
"It was great to get such a large support for the rule but it was also great to hear from folks who thought that this wasn't the right thing to do because that helped us to facilitate a conversation with the board of health," said Dr. Bridger.
The public will have another chance to speak out when the county commissioners take up the issue on Nov. 20.