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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Washington debates tobacco ban on public property

By Xiomara Levsen, Golden Triangle News Service | May 01, 2017

WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – The Washington County Board of Supervisors discussed tobacco use on government property at the meeting Tuesday morning.

Board chairman Richard Young said smoking has become an issue at the Washington County Courthouse, especially now that the courthouse has only one entrance.

“They’re standing out here in front of the door and the sidewalk,” Young said. “We wanted to address that and I think John [Gish, Washington County Attorney] you can tell us what the code says.”

The code requires no smoking on government owned buildings.

and the grounds they’re on, Gish said. This would include the area outside the door.


“So no formal action is technically required,” Gish added. “The board is able to go further than what the law requires I would say.”


Supervisor Abe Miller asked Gish if they should post a sign on the door about no tobacco use on the property. Gish said they could post a sign.


Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. asked if there was a fine for someone who is caught smoking on the property. Gish said there was a small penalty for people who smoke but didn’t know what the dollar amount was.


“So that wouldn’t be us saying it,” supervisor Abe Miller said. “That would be according to the code already?”


Gish said this was correct.

Seward pointed out the state code would cover the courthouse but the county could also pass its own ordinance regarding tobacco use on its properties. He also said he wasn’t sure who would enforce that ordinance at the courthouse.

“I don’t know whether it would be city police enforcing a county ordinance on county property,” Seward said. “These are probably things we should discuss.”


Washington County Sheriff Chief Deputy Shawn Ellingson said there would be jurisdiction issues enforcing this ordinance but would be something he could look into for the supervisors.


If there is a provision in the code already, Miller said he didn’t think the county should go beyond that.


“So my question is if they go out to the sidewalk, is that county property or is that city property?” Young asked.


Gish referred that question to Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius. Thorius said he didn’t know but could look into it further for them. Young said there really wasn’t any action to be taken because it was state code.

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