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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Local Government Smoke-Free Implementation Toolkit

Guidance from the UNC School of Government

Regulating Electronic Cigarettes in North Carolina, Part 2: Local Regulation

Further Information or Assistance

  • Jim D. Martin, MS, Director of Policy and Programs; (919) 707-5404; email
  • Ray Riordon, MS, Director of Local Program Development and Regulations; (919) 707-5407; email

The 2009 Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law (see Session Law 2009-27 external link) was signed into law on May 19, 2009. The law went into effect January 2, 2010, giving local government agencies clear authority to further regulate smoking on local government grounds and in enclosed public places.

A local government may adopt a local law restricting or prohibiting smoking that is more restrictive than the state law. In other words, the local law can place more restrictions on smoking or prohibit smoking in more places than is currently provided for in the state law. The local law may not reduce or take away restrictions and prohibitions provided for in the state law. This local authority extends to the following locations:

  • Local government buildings,
  • Unenclosed areas owned, leased, or occupied by the local government,
  • In passenger-carrying vehicles owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by local government and assigned permanently or temporarily by local government to local government employees, agencies, institutions, or facilities for official local government business, and
  • Enclosed areas to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted (i.e., “public places”).

Local governments may not, however, adopt a local law that restricts or prohibits smoking in the following places:

  • A private residence,
  • A private vehicle,
  • A tobacco shop (subject to limitations provided for in the law),
  • Property of a tobacco leaf grower or tobacco products processor or manufacturer,
  • A motion picture, television, theater, or other live production set, with respect to the actor or performer portraying the use of tobacco products during the production,
  • Designated smoking guest rooms in lodging establishments (up to 20% of the guest rooms),
  • Cigar bars (on this page, see the Exceptions questions group, then "Cigar bars"), and
  • Private clubs, including country clubs.

The toolkit below has been developed - in collaboration with the NC Association of Local Health Directors - to provide guidance to local governments for creating and implementing new smoke-free/tobacco-free policies.

The NC League of Municipalities reviewed the model municipal ordinances listed below and the NC Association of County Commissioners reviewed the county model ordinances.

Local Government Toolkit

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 N.C. County Smoke/Tobacco-Free Policy Websites

 Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Highlight Sheet (PDF, 281 KB)


  • Surgeon General’s Report Overview
  • Six Major Conclusions of the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report
  • Health Effects Brief
    • Lung Cancer
    • Respiratory Effects
    • Heart Disease
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and Other Health Consequences in Infants and Children
  • No Safe Levels of Exposure

 Potential Hazards of Secondhand Exposure to E-Cigarettes

Highlight Sheet (PDF, 272 KB)


  • Growing evidence that breathing e-cigarette “vapor” can be harmful
  • E-cigarette safety in question
  • Recommendations that e-cigarette use is regulated

 Benefits of a Smoke-Free Workplace

Highlight Sheet (PDF, 316 KB)


  • Secondhand Smoke is a Known Health Hazard
  • Smoke-Free Policies Can Create Positive Behavior Change
  • Smoking and Secondhand Smoke is Costly
  • Public Opinion Supports Smoke-Free Workplaces

 Costs of On-the-Job Tobacco Use

Highlight Sheet (PDF, 288 KB)


  • Costs to Employers
  • Smoking-Caused Monetary Costs in North Carolina
  • Research: Economic Effects of Secondhand Smoke
  • Costs to Individuals and Society

 Basics of Ventilation

Highlight Sheet (PDF, 227 KB)


  • Why It Doesn’t Work for Secondhand Smoke
  • Position Statements

 Developing and Implementing a Smoke-Free/Tobacco-Free Regulation

Highlight Sheet (PDF, 115 KB)


  • Assess the Current Situation
  • Develop the Policy
  • Communicate with Employees and Management
  • Announce and Manage the Policy
  • Possible Issues and Sample Responses
  • Public Education/Posting Signs


Sample Timeline for Tobacco-Free Policy Adoption (PDF, 14 KB)

 Cessation/Support for Employees Who Use Tobacco

QuitlineNC: 1-800-784-8669



  • Quitting Resources
  • Facts about Nicotine
  • Facts about Addiction
  • Facts about Withdrawal
  • Facts about Quitting
  • Benefits of Quitting

 Policy Resources

The NC League of Municipalities reviewed the model municipal ordinances listed below and the NC Association of County Commissioners reviewed the county model ordinances.

 News Releases

The local government should work with all news media outlets (newspapers, TV, radio, blogs, etc.) in their county/city to make sure the public is informed about the new local regulation. 

For assistance with news releases, please contact:

Ann Houston Staples, CHES
Director of Public Education & Communication
Tobacco Prevention & Control Branch, NC Division of Public Health
(704) 543-2347
FAX (704) 543-2348

 Compliance Aids

Signs are perhaps the most important compliance aid. Every area established as smoke-free or tobacco-free under the policy should post a conspicuous sign stating that fact. The international "No Smoking" symbol consisting of a pictorial representation of a cigarette enclosed in a circle with a bar across it is considered acceptable.

The signs linked below are intended as samples. You may download the sign/s and complete the blanks using Adobe software.

Prohibiting All Tobacco Products

Tobacco-Free Buildings and Grounds (PDF, 29 KB)

Prohibiting Smoking in Public Places

Smoke-Free Public Places Ordinance (DOC, 35 KB)


Communication and education are the most important factors in successfully implementing a new smoke-free local regulation. In addition to posting signs to let the public know it is against the law to smoke/use tobacco products, many in charge of enforcing new local regulations use a friendly reminder approach in the form of a positively worded post card or business card that reminds the smoker/tobacco user of the new ordinance and thanks them for their cooperation. On the reverse side is information on how to quit tobacco use, including a reference to the Quitline at 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669). These can be passed out by formal leaders and informal leaders during the days leading up to the ordinance going into effect, and as a friendly reminder after the ordinance is in effect. 

 Success Stories - Updated 06/19/20