Expansion of Smoking Ban To Outdoors Begins Today

MOUNDSVILLE – Though the calendar says today is April Fools’ Day, the implementation of Marshall County’s expanded smoking ban is no joke.

County Board of Health members voted in February to expand the ban to include outdoor parks and ball fields and set April 1 as the date to start the measure. With the health department’s approval, designated smoking areas can still be set up in such outdoor areas as requested by city and county officials.

Administrator Ronda Francis said the health department has been trying to educate people about the ban’s expansion via advertising. She also plans to send postcards to businesses and ball teams. Letters already have been sent to hotels and motels notifying owners that all rooms must become smoke free. To date, only one park, Grand Vue, has requested to designate outdoor smoking areas.

”Providing healthy environments for the children of Marshall County is a high priority for the health department,” Francis said.

While the existing ban has been on the books for a few years, the board decided to pursue expanding the ban because of complaints from parents whose children use ball fields. Parents complained that people were smoking too close to the children’s dugouts, exposing them to smoke.

”It now includes outside public areas such as parks, playground, ball fields, stadiums, bleachers, swimming pools, fairs, festivals, outdoor dining at covered businesses, medical campuses and a 15-foot rule at doors and ventilation systems of covered businesses,” Francis added.

And unlike before, there will be penalties for breaking the regulation.

”The penalties for violating these regulations will be imposed upon individuals as well as businesses and upon conviction will result in fines between $200 and $1,000,” she said.

The ban will continue to allow smoking in private residences unless the residence is being used as a child care or adult care facility.

Grand Vue Park Manager Craig White said he has been working with the health department on creating designated smoking areas for visitors. He said it would be a few weeks before their signage arrives, but they are already setting up buckets for people to place their cigarette butts in.

”Our cabins are already smoke free inside,” he noted.

Francis said previously that during the comment period, some people called her and said they wished the ban included bars and gambling parlors – two places where smoking still is allowed.