New Castle County has reversed a ban that prohibited smoking near three office complexes where most of the county's 1,400 employees work.

New Castle County Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi, who is three weeks into his new county job and a smoker himself, made the change.  He says the change should increase the productivity of county workers who smoke because they won't have to leave the property to take a smoke break. The county had put the ban in place less than a year ago.

Grimaldi tried to ease concerns of health advocates who were concerned about the impact on workers' health, by issuing a statement Thursday afternoon, "New Castle County is merely amending the distance in which employees can smoke at the three government locations.  Going forward, employees need to maintain a 25 foot distance from these buildings and be out of public sight."

A state ban on smoking indoors and close to public buildings still applies. The law that banned indoor smoking, Delaware's Clean Indoor Air Act, went into effect ten years ago this month.