Rutherfordton Looking to Clear the Air with a Smoke & Tobacco Free Ordinance and seeks Public Feedback

Posted on May 13, 2021

Tobacco Free

The Town of Rutherfordton recognizes that smoking and tobacco are health, safety, and environmental hazards for citizens, employees, and visitors. Rutherfordton recognizes its obligation to promote a healthy environment, free from unwanted smoke and tobacco usage for everyone within its facilities and on its grounds.

By considering adopting a 100% smoke and tobacco-free ordinance, the Town Council aims to influence choices for healthier behaviors and protect those at risk for exposure to secondhand smoke in its parks and public spaces.  As a government entity and employer, Rutherfordton is on the forefront of promoting healthy behaviors. A major benefit of adopting a smoke and tobacco-free policy is a healthier workforce. In fact, the #1 reason why most people quit smoking and using tobacco is because their workplace has gone smoke and tobacco-free.


The 2018 Rutherford County Health Assessment also reveals that rates of current smokers in Rutherford County remains higher than that of Western North Carolina and the state, meanwhile, the rate of those who currently use smokeless tobacco products has nearly tripled since 2015. The report calls for ways to decrease the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes usage in Rutherford County including support from local governments. “The Town plays a critical role as convener of partners and as an implementer of community policies to enhance community overall health,” said Mayor Jimmy Dancy.


The proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking in Town buildings, vehicles, government grounds, parks, greenways, and in public places in the Town and at special events.  Long-standing research shows that policies that prohibit smoking, not only smoke-free environments, protect everyone from harmful exposures to secondhand smoke. These policies further help and support people who want to quit smoking and quit other tobacco use.


Public Input Sought

The Town has released a survey to the public soliciting feedback on a proposed ordinance expanding the reach of existing smoke-free laws. The survey is the first step in a series of methods to solicit feedback from the public on the proposed Ordinance. Town Council also invites the public and those interested in the health of the community to attend the June 2nd Town Council meeting to express feedback on the proposed ordinance.


The public is encouraged to provide input on the proposed ordinance and can do so in one of three ways:

  • An online survey will be posted on the Town Website and Social Media site beginning on Thursday, May 13, 2021, paper copies are also available at the Norris Public Library and Town Hall. A direct link to the survey is

  • A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 2nd, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall located at 129 North Main Street, Rutherfordton, NC 28139
  • You may send an email to Town Clerk Mara Short ( with the words Tobacco-Free in the Subject line expressing feedback. Emails will be received until Noon on June 2nd.


After reviewing the input and feedback at their June 2nd meeting, the Town Council will discuss and consider a vote on the Ordinance.



The 2010 NC Smoke-free Restaurants and Bars Law (N.C. Gen. Stat. 130A-498) allows local governments to adopt and enforce smoke-free ordinances that are more comprehensive than State law in local government buildings, on local government grounds, in local vehicles, or in public places.


Secondhand smoke is known to increase the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, heart attack and lung disease in nonsmokers and according to the Surgeon General; there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.


As the fifty healthiest county in North Carolina, the Town Council feels it is in the best interest of our citizens and those who visit the community to be provided with a healthy and smoke-free environment.


For additional research and data:

2018 Rutherford County Health Assessment (Source: Foothills Health District)

Secondhand Smoke Exposure (Source: NC Division of Health and Human Services):

Smoking (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) m


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