Smokers could be shooed from door |

Smokers could be shooed from door

Maybe they were just blowing smoke, but Nevada County officials Tuesday talked about stocking umbrellas at county entrances to shelter weather-beaten county smokers.

The protection from the elements has a catch.

The smokers, already exiled from county buildings and on the verge of being told to move farther from the door, would have to suffer a further indignity – umbrellas with anti-smoking messages.

“It’s kind of a modern version of the ‘Scarlet Letter’,” quipped Supervisor Peter Van Zant.

The umbrellas were discussed during a first reading of a county ordinance amendment to require smokers to stay at least 20 feet from entrances to county buildings.

The county could get state anti-smoking funds and buy umbrellas, but they would have to carry an anti-smoking message.

If the county built a shelter for smokers, it would have to pay the costs from the general fund without any help from anti-smoking funds.

Supervisors didn’t make any decisions about what options to take.

If the ordinance amendment passes at next Tuesday’s second reading, Nevada County would join Sacramento, Yolo, San Mateo, Marin and Madera counties in issuing a ban on smoking within 20 feet of an entrance. The ordinance would become effective in 30 days after passing.

Second-hand smoke experts at universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, agree that a 20-foot outdoor smoking ban is scientifically justifiable, according to Henry Foley, director of the county’s community health department. The Nevada County ban would also cover windows and air intakes.

Foley said that upon arriving to Nevada County he was a little surprised to find people standing near an entrance, their smoke wafting into the building.

“It’s unacceptable from a public health standpoint,” said Foley.

Van Zant and Supervisor Elizabeth Martin said they’ve had people complain to them about people smoking next to county entrances.

Supervisor Bruce Conklin said he has never understood why the county was obligated to shelter its smokers.

Supervisor Sue Horne stuck up for smokers, saying there is an element of disrespect to employees with the umbrella proposal.

Horne said she wanted to hear from county employees who smoke, since the matter would affect them directly.

In other business, county supervisors voted to accept a $50,000 state grant to hire a temporary, part-time social worker to coordinate teen services programs within the Nevada City and Grass Valley communities.

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