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Health Dept. petitions for smoke-free campus

WINDSOR – Yet another health care facility in Bertie County is now completely tobacco-free.

Albemarle Regional Health Services, which manages the Bertie County Health Department, has decided that all of its campuses, vehicles and buildings will no longer allow tobacco use.

In addition to cigarettes and cigars, chewing tobacco, pipes, snuff and any other items containing tobacco are banned.

At Monday’s meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners, a representative of ARHS, Battle Betts, came before the board to request they sign a resolution to help ARHS enforce the measure.

&uot;ARHS is asking the commissioners to endorse a resolution that would allow us to prohibit smoking on the grounds as well as in all of our buildings,&uot; Betts stated.

Rick Harrell, Chairman of the Commissioners, inquired as to what ARHS would do to accommodate those who currently smoke.

Betts explained that they would be offering smoking cessation classes.

Harrell responded, &uot;So you’re going to stop them from smoking, in other words.&uot;

A North Carolina law (from House Bill 24) will go into effect January 1, 2008 that will prohibit smoking in all state-owned buildings and also give local governments the authority to prohibit smoking in local buildings, around health care facilities or in local government vehicles.

Betts further stated, &uot;We already don’t allow smoking in (our) buildings, but this would be much more far reaching and would include grounds and vehicles.&uot;

Joanne Jordan, head of the Bertie County Health Department, added, &uot;The issue for Bertie County is that the hospital is right beside us and they are pushing that we become smoke-free as well.&uot;

Commissioner Norman Cherry moved to go on record in support of the resolution and the measure passed without objection.