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County allows exceptions to tobacco ban

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After employees complained, St. Croix County supervisors agreed last week to soften a ban that prohibited nearly any tobacco use on any county-owned property.

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The ban adopted in October said no use of tobacco would be allowed on the grounds of county government buildings, at the fairgrounds, in county parks and in any county-owned vehicles and equipment regardless of location. Exceptions were made for St. Croix Industry's developmentally disabled clients and for residents of the county nursing home in New Richmond.

The modifications adopted last week allow private citizens and employees to use tobacco in their own cars, even if they are on county property. Employees can also smoke in designated areas at work sites.

Some union members complained the ban violated their collective bargaining agreements. There was also a question about the county's right and ability to enforce a ban in private vehicles.

The resolution adopted last week said concerns were raised that prohibiting smoking or use of other tobacco products in private vehicles "is onerous and unlikely to be enforced."

The county has banned smoking inside county government buildings and passenger vehicles for over 17 years.

The total ban was adopted in October by a vote of 22-5. The modifications approved last week were adopted 26-0.

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Judy Wiff
Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.
(715) 426-1049
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