Village Board approves Smoking Ban

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Smoking on village property will be prohibited when a new local law takes effect in March, following Monday night’s Granville Village Board meeting.

The unanimously approved law renders all village properties smoke free; Tobacco-Free Coalition outreach coordinator Courtney A. Smith called the action “historic.”

“This is the first one in the area that I cover – Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties,” Smith said.

Smith’s organization helps municipalities set up smoke-free areas with funding from the state Department of Health. She told the board other municipalities have adopted a similar measure, but did so as a board resolution. Smith said she planned to return to the village to help it select signage for the affected areas.

Mayor Jay Niles said he wanted the board to enact a law to give the consequences of violating the ban “more teeth.”

The penalties under the law start with a warning on the first offense and move up to a $250 fine for the fourth offense. Anyone violating the law might be asked to leave village property; refusal to comply can result in a charge of trespass, officials said.

Niles said he wanted the law to take effect later in the year to give the village time to put up signs in the affected areas and to educate people about what the smoking ban means.

Board member Frank Caruso said he thought the village needed to be ready for a backlash from people who were unhappy with the ban. “All I’m saying is there are a lot of gray areas, be ready for complaints,” Caruso said.

Others disagreed, with Trustee Gordon ‘Gordie’ Smith citing an example from working at Granville High School.

While working at a home football game at Sam Eppolito Field this fall, Smith said, someone complained about a man smoking a cigarette. When the man was approached by an employee who explained the school was in a tobacco-free school zone, the man put his cigarette out without complaint, Smith said.

“It’s about education,” Smith said.  

Opening the meeting with a public hearing, the board received no input from the public on a night when three inches of snow fell in Granville marking the first significant snowfall of the season. No members of the public attended the meeting.

The law was too restrictive, Caruso said, questioning what the definition of “public” would be. Caruso asked if the roadways within the village fall under the law.

Niles and other board members argued the coverage of the law, for public areas under village authority, was reasonable.

Niles said the roads are exempted under a provision in the law. The law lists 11 separate areas in the village where smoking will no longer be allowed.

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