The Guilford County Health Department is preparing to take the next step in its fight against smoking and electronic nicotine use: The department is coming to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners soon to seek further restrictions on smoking and the use of the new popular e-cigarettes on county property.

Over the last decade, the Health Department has sought – and gotten – tighter restrictions on smoking in county buildings and on county properties. However, this week Guilford County Health Director Merle Green said her department would like to see those rules being tightened up, and she said the county’s ordinances also need to be updated to address the use of e-cigs – the increasingly popular electronic devices that provide users with a blast of nicotine without putting off the smoke that actual cigarettes do.

“This is the next step – to expand those rules,” Green said.

Currently, county ordinances prevent smoking inside county buildings and near the entrances.  Green said it’s not clear yet what the new regulations will look like if approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.  According to Green, that will depend on the board – which also doubles as the county’s Board of Health and Human Services – and its willingness to tighten up the county’s anti-smoking rules on county-owned property.

Green said there are a lot fewer people smoking now than there were a decade or two ago, but those that remain still cause problems for those around them with their smoke.

She said some seven-year-olds today might see a smoker walking down the street and have the same reaction an adult might have when seeing a turntable or some other relic that’s been lost to time over the years.

She added, however, that there are still smokers and a lot of users of e-cigs.  According to Green, Guilford County’s current “No Smoking” rules generally keep people from using e-cigs in county buildings, but not always, and she said there shouldn’t be any legal ambiguity in those rules so they need to be updated and strengthened.

“That works 99.9 percent of the time,” she said of the county’s current ban on smoking in county buildings, “but there are times that it doesn’t.”

Green said, for instance, someone may still occasionally use an e-cig in a county building, thinking that the no-smoking rule doesn’t apply to electronic nicotine dispensers.

Green said she would also like to see smoking more restricted on county grounds and in county parks in order to discourage the unhealthy practice.