After a public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Thurston County Board of Health adopted new rules on smoking and vaping. The action formally adopts rules consistent with the statewide Smoking in Public Places law into the Thurston County Sanitary Code and adds the same restrictions for vaping, according to a press release from the county.
The sanitary code now prohibits smoking and vaping in indoor public places, places of employment and certain youth-oriented outdoor public places. It also applies the same 25-foot rule from doors and other air intakes for indoor spaces for vaping, as is true for smoking. The sanitary code requires signage about the rules at public places and places of employment. It also includes a rebuttal process for reducing the 25-foot rule.
The rules take effect on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, and begin with a six-month phase in approach for education and outreach. Because this is a health code, when enacted, the restrictions will apply to all jurisdictions of Thurston County.
The ordinance employs an approach to enforcement that starts with education and technical assistance, working with property owners and managers to find solutions to the problems. Enforcement begins on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
“This action by the Board of Health helps support a healthy community by protecting all citizens from exposure to secondhand smoke and vapor emissions,” said Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek.
Vaping among young people is a growing concern in Thurston County. Thurston County has experienced a significant increase in youth use of e-cigarettes and other vapor products, with 48 percent of 12th graders having tried vaping at some point, and 32 percent of 12th graders currently vaping, according to the 2018 Healthy Youth Survey. Young people who use e-cigarettes are at a higher risk for using cigarettes and other substances.
“We know enacting policies like these support our youth in making healthy choices, which is important now and in the future,” said Board of Health Chair Tye Menser.
Copies of the ordinance can be found online at: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/Pages/smoking-vipp-sepa.aspx.