Town considering ban on public property smoking


SILER CITY — The Siler City Board of Commissioners is considering enacting a policy prohibiting use of tobacco products on public property.

The subject was discussed at the board’s meeting on Monday when Joseph Keel, the town’s Parks and Recreation Director, requested a similar policy for all parks facilities. Keel noted the department has received numerous complaints, particularly at Bray Park, about park visitors smoking in bleachers and in parking lots during tournaments.

“Smoking is not typical for the tournament environment,” Keel said. “Currently our parks have no policy.”

Keel presented to commissioners a proposed parks facilities tobacco ban, based on the Chatham County tobacco policy adopted in 2016. With the request on the agenda, the town’s interim town manager, Roy Lynch, noted that he had included a discussion point about a policy for all town property to ascertain if the board wanted to move in that direction rather than simply ban tobacco products in parks alone.

Town Attorney William Morgan said that if the board is considering a more comprehensive ban, it would make sense to do only one policy rather than a separate one for parks to prevent confusion.

The board was provided with several documents to use as they consider what to do moving forward, including the state’s Health and Human Services model ordinance, Chatham County’s policy, and a policy for Canton and Haywood County for comparison.

Commissioner Lewis Fadely said he believes the town should consider a policy similar to Chatham County’s, for consistency. When asked, Morgan said he believes, based on the language, that the Chatham County policy was modeled on the HHS model ordinance. He also noted that the Chatham County policy would also apply to park facilities.

The board was in general consensus that it would prefer to have a policy that covers all town property, directing the staff to return with an ordinance similar to Chatham County’s and determine where in the town’s code the ordinance should be written. Keel said Parks and Recreation staff was hoping to have a policy in place “more immediately” so that it could begin ordering signage and begin educating residents about the policy, but he was assured that the measure would be ready for a vote at the board’s next regular meeting on August 19.

The Chatham County smoking policy covers all tobacco products including cigarettes, snuff, and vapes. Use of tobacco products are prohibited in any county building, in any county vehicle, and on any county grounds, including the park system.

If the town passes an ordinance similar to Chatham County’s it would need to remove all ash trays, create signage in English and Spanish and post at all entrances. Employees would need to be informed of the change as well. Visitors who are seen using tobacco products will be asked to stop and if they don’t can be escorted from the premises. Employees who violate the policy would be dealt with in accordance with personnel policies, which may include a verbal or written warning.

The tobacco policy is anticipated to be on the agenda of the next Siler City Board of Commissioners regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on August 19.

Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at