Upgrade On Ban Has Light Reaction

MOUNDSVILLE – The Marshall County Health Department received mixed reviews on the board of health’s plan to expand its smoking ban to the outdoors.

Thursday was the last day people could submit comments about the proposal. The board is slated to vote on the matter at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 8 at the health department, 513 Sixth St., Moundsville.

“We’ve gotten very few comments from Marshall County residents. Some comments have been totally for the proposed changes, some have expressed mixed feelings and some are completely against it,” said department Administrator Ronda Francis, noting she received 12 comments from Marshall County residents, along with a few from people living outside of West Virginia and as far away as California.

“The board of health will receive copies of the comments received prior to the meeting next week so that they have an opportunity to review them and take them into consideration before voting on the proposal,” she said.

The board is proposing expansion of the county’s existing smoking regulation to include outdoors areas such as parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, fairs, festivals, outdoor dining areas, waiting lines and more. The expansion also would include making hotel/motel rooms smoke-free. And unlike before, there will be penalties for breaking the regulation if one is found guilty in court of doing so.

The regulation will continue to allow smoking in private residences unless the residence is being used as a child care or adult care facility. Smoking also still is permitted in bars, private clubs, bingo operations, limited video lottery rooms and tobacco stores. But the regulation notes any business has the right to prohibit smoking inside.

Board members include Donald Mason, chairman; Janet Kendzierski, vice chairwoman; Robert Riggenbach; Carol Wade; and Shirley Byard.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health last year proposed expanding its smoking ban to outdoor venues and every area inside Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. After holding various public meetings on the matter, however, members decided there was not enough support at that time and indefinitely tabled the measure.

Francis said the health department has received complaints about people smoking in various public places, exposing their children to secondhand smoke. Such complaints have prompted the board to consider taking action.