About two complaints a month are lodged with the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department regarding tobacco smoke leaking from video gambling rooms inside restaurants.
The health department's smoking ban allows restaurants to have such rooms, but there is no regulation forcing the owner to install a separate air handler to filter out the smoke, said Administrator Howard Gamble.
''Some of the rooms are small, have only a few machines and can get very smoky. In addition, many do not have good ventilation that removes the smoke. As a result, when patrons go into and out of the rooms, smoke will at times come out into the general area,'' Gamble said.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Ohio County’s smoking ban allows smoking inside video gambling rooms, but there is no regulation forcing the owner to install a separate air handler to filter out the smoke.
He noted some establishments opt to install such filtering equipment on their own, and it can help cut down on the smoke leaking from the room.
''When we get these types of complaints, we still make a site visit to make sure they are in compliance with the regulation and to see if we can advise them on making some corrections to limit the smoke coming into the general area,'' Gamble said.
Eateries and bars with video gambling rooms are required by the health department to post signs warning customers that smoking is permitted inside and that patrons may be exposed to secondhand smoke.
''This posting shall be conspicuously placed. This advisory shall include, but is not limited to, the following: 'Health warning: Smoking is permitted within this facility, you will be exposed to secondhand smoke. Such exposure can cause or contribute to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, and other serious health problems,''' he said.
Gamble noted proposed changes to the smoking ban tabled by the board of health would have forbidden smoking inside video gambling rooms, too.