HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. — A proposal to expand Berkeley County’s ban on smoking in public places to include bars and fraternal organizations is getting pushback from some business owners, like Gail Kesecker — the owner of the Long Branch Saloon and Grill in Hedgesville.
“This is the bars and you have to be 21 to enter. There’s gambling. We have the lottery machines here, so it’s a choice. It’s a choice to enter,” argued Kesecker. “If they choose to smoke, that should be an adult’s choice.”
Kesecker, who was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” was planning to be part of a public forum on the proposal, scheduled for Wednesday night, at the Robert C. Byrd Sciences Center in Martinsburg.
The public comment period for the ban’s expansion ends on Saturday.
Supporters have said the proposal could save lives by keeping non-smokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke.
But, Kesecker maintained, the more restrictive regulations are not needed. “There’s non-smoking bars in the area. They have places for people who don’t smoke to gamble and go to bars, but I think it should be our choice,” she said.
Members of the Berkeley County Health Department’s Board of Directors are expected to take up the proposed ordinance during a meeting on May 6.
A similar proposal is also being considered in Hancock County.