Hennepin County expands no smoking zone to all propertyby Matt Sepic, Minnesota Public Radio
Hennepin County commissioners have made a smoking ban even tougher.
An existing law prohibits smoking within 45 feet of building entrances. But after July 1, smoking anywhere on county property -- even inside private vehicles -- will be prohibited.
Board chair Mike Opat says a blanket ban is easier to enforce than trying to police building entryways.
"If we take away the ashtrays and take away the containers and have appropriate signage, I think the security officers will have a lot less to do," said Opat.
The tobacco-free policy passed on a 6-1 vote. It's tougher than the existing rule, which bans smoking in county buildings and near entrances.
Commissioner Jeff Johnson cast the only "no" vote. Johnson says the measure goes too far.
"There's a point at which government can no longer prevent people from making poor personal decisions. And we're all going to disagree on where that point is," said Johnson. "But I would argue that it's short of banning it in your own car."
Drivers on county roads may still smoke in their cars. Also exempted are psychiatric patients in a designated area of the Hennepin County Medical Center.