B y Dan King

Smoking has been banned on town property in Whitehall.

The Town Board voted unanimously last week to ban “smoking of any kind” on all “real property controlled by the Town of Whitehall.”

Town Attorney Erika Sellar-Ryan said the ordinance was originally going to ban smoking “within 50 feet of any town building,” but because of the layout of the Town Municipal Center that wouldn’t work.

The ban will affect smokers outside of the Town Municipal Center, the Town Court, any town park, the Town Highway Department and any other property controlled by the Town of Whitehall.

Signs will be made by Highway Department workers and posted at “conspicuous locations at the entryway of all town properties.”

Because the ban is a resolution and not a local law, there is no fine associated with violating it. However, town officials can ask someone to leave the property.

“Because it is a resolution and not a local, you can post it, yell at someone about it and request them to leave, but you can’t fine them for it,” Sellar-Ryan said.

Town officials said they decided on the move because there has been a drastic increase in smoking, leaving cigarette butts on the ground and overall littering outside of the town court of late.

According to the resolution, it was also passed for the health issues associated with second-hand smoke.

“The Town of Whitehall is authorized to pass policies to benefit the health and well-being of its residents and visitors in its jurisdiction,” the resolution reads.

In addition to the ban, the town is looking into trash cans and ashtrays to help with the littering issue outside of the courtroom.

“I think we should have an ashtray outside,” said Councilman John Rozell. “That way if someone gets out of their car with a cigarette or cigar, they can see the sign and say ‘oh I can’t smoke here’ and they’ll put it in the ashtray instead of just throwing it on the ground.”

Town Clerk Julie Millett said she’d like to see a couple of municipal trashcans outside as well, to discourage littering.

“We’ve had people waiting for court who just throw their coffee cups on the ground,” she said.

Because the ban was passed by resolution, no public hearing is required and the ban became effective last Wednesday.

The Village of Whitehall already has a very similar ordinance in place for its properties. That ordinance affects smokers outside of the Village Office, the Police Station, the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Co., any village parks and any other village-controlled property.

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