Great Barrington expands smoking ordinance to include electronic cigarettes

Wednesday December 26, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- The town has expanded its anti-smoking ordinance to include electronic cigarettes, an inhaler that resembles a cigarette, but delivers nicotine in a vapor rather than smoke.

Following an update of the town’s smoking ordinance, higher fines will be attached to infractions, bars that promote and profit from smoking could be banned, and smoking will also be prohibited in town parks and cemeteries.

Health Director Mark Pruhenski said that the ordinance was drawn up with the Tri-Town Health Department.

"The purpose of this was to update a 12-year-old regulation and stay ahead of the curve with electronic cigarettes and smoking [in] bars," Pruhenski said.

Smoking is still permitted in private residence, including hotel rooms, private nursing care rooms, sidewalks, and along the walkway on Main Street.

Pruhenski said that the Board of Health is acting proactively. He said that the town does not have smoking bars -- which include cigar bars and hookah bars, which allow smoking through an instrument called a hookah -- but town officials have been approached in the past. The new ordinance would prohibit any future smoking bars from being established.

In a change from the previous ordinance, the Board of Health will be allowed to revoke a food service permit if the permit holder has committed a violation.

Fines will be nearly double what they were.

A first violation has been increased from $100 to $250; a second violation within a 24-month period went from $200 to $350; and a third penalty from $300 to 500.

Smoking previously permitted at rooms used for conference, meeting, and assembly for private functions will no longer be legal.

The implementation of the original ordinance in 2000 was contentious, Pruhenski recalled, but he said people didn’t turn out for the meeting.

Betsy Andrus, executive director of the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, said she hasn’t heard any complaints from businesses.

Andrus said that many people have become accustomed to smoking being illegal in most public places.

Pruhenski said he also didn’t hear from anyone during public comment on the revised ordinance.

"We have not heard from any smokers," Pruhenski said. "It’s actually from the opposite. We actually hear from non-smokers."


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