OSLO, Norway (AP) - A central Norwegian county has declared smoking to be a basic human right in a dispute over a ban imposed on one town's workers.

Levanger, a township of about 18,000 people, banned all smoking by municipal employees during working hours on or off city property at the beginning of the year. The ruling, which made national news Wednesday, came after three opponents of the rule, all local council members from the right-wing Party of Progress, asked the county governor's office to assess the ban's legality.

In a letter to the city dated Tuesday, the county declared the ban invalid because it violates the European Human Rights Convention.

It said the city can ban smoking on its property, but not, for example, if a worker was driving his or her own car or was on private property.

The county cited a section of the convention that protects citizens' private lives.