Smoking Ban Still Hot Topic Throughout Valley

WHEELING – Cheryl Wonderly believes if Hancock County goes completely smoke free that Ohio County may need to consider doing the same.

Wonderly, a Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health member, spoke on the matter during Tuesday’s regular board meeting. Hancock County’s board of health is taking public comment on its proposal to expand its smoking ban to include all indoor public places, including Mountaineer Casino.

The Ohio County board in 2011 went through similar proceedings, but decided to table its proposal to expand its smoking ban. The tabled version calls for completely prohibiting smoking inside Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and small video lottery shops.

“If Hancock went smoke free across the board, I think we would be hard-pressed not to at least re-address discussions and go through the process, and consider it seriously at that point,” Wonderly said.

Health Officer Dr. William Mercer said local casino officials in the past were concerned about casinos coming on line in Ohio, but those are smoke free because of a statewide ban. And Pennsylvania officials are considering having the state go smoke-free, he said.

“I would make my place smoke free because I would get more business than I would not at this point,” Mercer said.

In a related matter, the board was notified of a petition with 100 signatures from Lisa’s Hair-Um in Elm Grove that asks to have the smoking ban expanded because they are tired of breathing secondhand smoke they say is leaking from an adjacent video gambling parlor into the shop.

Administrator Howard Gamble said despite people being able to smell smoke in the building, the parlor is in compliance with the board’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

The petition states, “We at Lisa’s Hair-Um are continually exposed to secondhand smoke. We feel it affects us physically. We are requesting that exceptions be discontinued since the current regulation is not working.”

Meanwhile, the board held a closed-door session to talk about legal matters regarding an ongoing investigation being conducted by the health department.

The board declined to disclose any details.

The next board of health meeting is set for noon Sept. 9 in City Council Chambers on the first floor of the City-County Building.