Henderson County asks state for more control over smoking regulations
HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) —
The Henderson County Board of Health passed a resolution last week asking the state for the ability to add regulations on top of state law that governs tobacco products. The Rutherford Polk McDowell District Health Department also recently passed a similar ordinance.
The Henderson County Department of Public Health would like to take measures to keep tobacco and nicotine products away from kids.
Across the street from East Henderson High is a convenience store that has several cigarette ads on windows and in the parking lot. Henderson County health officials said students who smoke usually have stores selling cigarettes near school.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 30 percent of high school students use tobacco products.
"We would like to be able to not have that access as readily available to students, or not advertised so much to the students," said Beverly Levinson, health promotion coordinator for the Henderson County Department of Public Health.
State law prohibits local governments from enacting their own ordinances and rules regarding tobacco sales, distribution, display and promotion.
But Henderson County would like to make changes to the tobacco rules, including possibly raising the age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21.
"Raising the age to 21 is just a minor piece. We don't want tobacco to be advertised toward youth or in their face," Levinson said.
Smokers we spoke with said there are bigger issues to deal with.
"To say that local government needs to have more control over that would just be putting more regulations on small businesses," said Josh Baker, of Henderson County.
One parent said nobody needs to be smoking. Jamey Freeman would like to see cigarette ads banned near schools.
"If they would do that, it would be the best thing in the world. Just get that away from kids. Kids are not mature enough to make that decision. I wish they would outlaw cigarettes all together," Freeman said.
DHHS reports 1 in 10 middle schoolers uses tobacco.