Smoking & Vaping Ordinance

Smoking and Vaping Now Limited in Public Places Across New Hanover County

On Monday, November 16, 2020, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners voted to implement an ordinance mirroring a Health and Human Services Board rule (PDF) prohibiting the use of combustible tobacco and e-cigarettes in New Hanover County, effective February 1, 2021.

Smoking-VapingTobacco use has been one of the leading causes of preventable death and chronic disease in our country for decades. On top of that, use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, that contain harmful products and nicotine, is increasing among our youth. Between 2011-2017, the NC Youth Tobacco Survey found that current e-cigarette use had increased by 894% in high school students and 430% in middle school students.

The new ordinance aligns the expectations of vaping with traditional cigarette smoking in most public places and protects residents from unwanted inhalation of secondhand smoke and e-cigarette vapors. Areas where smoking and vaping will be prohibited include county, town and city buildings, vehicles and grounds, and public places like restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.

View the full ordinance (PDF)

This ordinance would not apply to any property owned, leased or maintained by the State of North Carolina.

Smoking and Vaping Permitted as of February 1, 2021

  • Personal residence
  • Personal vehicle
  • Designated areas of unenclosed sections in restaurants and bars.
  • Privately owned unenclosed areas (business parking lot, business patio, etc.)
  • Smoking/E-cigarette shop
  • Cigar bar
  • Designated smoking/vaping guest room in a lodging establishment
  • Private club
  • Movie, TV, theater or other live production set, only for the actor portraying smoking/vaping
  • A public area at such time group therapeutic rehabilitation is being conducted

Smoking and Vaping Prohibited as of February 1, 2021

  • County, Town and City buildings
  • County, Town and City vehicles
  • Any County, Town and City grounds, except where expressly permitted
  • County, Town and City parks, playgrounds, athletic field and trails except where expressly permitted
  • Bus stops on County, Town or City grounds
  • Public Transportation
  • Child Care Facilities
  • Shopping Malls and Retail Stores
  • Elevators
  • Polling Places
  • Public Restrooms
  • Restaurants and Bars (except where expressly permitted in unenclosed areas)
  • Galleries, Libraries and Museums
  • Theaters, Entertainment and Sports Arenas
  • Gaming facilities including Internet Sweepstakes
  • Lobbies, hallways and common areas in multi-unit residential facilities (apartment buildings, retirement facilities, nursing homes, etc.)
  • Offices and commercial establishments where the public is invited or permitted.
  1. Post appropriate signs reflecting both no smoking and no e-cig or vaping. Signs must be posted at each entrance to businesses covered by the law. For more information regarding sign requirements, please reference Section 6: Signage of the Ordinance (PDF). New Hanover County Public Health will provide outdoor signs for pick up upon request.
  2. Remove all ashtrays and other smoke receptacles from the areas where smoking is prohibited. This includes all indoor areas in businesses, except smoking rooms in hotels.
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Smoking and Vaping Rule