MARTINSBURG, W. Va. — The Berkeley County Board of Health adopted stricter indoor air regulations by a vote of 4-1 during Tuesday night’s meeting.
However, the board opted to allow for changes to the original ordinance.
“There were some language changes and definitions that were added to allow for retail tobacco stores,” said Bill Kearns, board administrator. “Owner-operated, they have no employees, and that they’re in a stand-alone building of their own.”
Another change dealt with open areas—such as festivals, fairs and parks—which would allow the development of a self-enforced ordinance specific to those areas.
Currently, there are 650 permitted businesses within Berkeley County. Only 84 of those chose to allow smoking in their establishments.
These businesses will have until July 1 to transition into smoke-free establishments.
The board will be working with them through the process.
“We’ll work with those agencies between now and July 1 to get signage to them, to answer any questions that they may have,” Kearns said. “It won’t be an easy transition but it’s definitely a necessary one.”
Kearns said he was pleased with the public comments during the 30-day period leading up to Tuesday night’s vote and wanted residents to know their opinions were taken into account.
He hopes the cordial relationship can continue as the transition period begins.
“I’m looking forward to us working with the community to make a healthier Berkeley County.”
Tuesday’s vote was also noteworthy to the state, Kearns said.
“With our Board of Health adopting this ordinance, we become the 25th out of 49 local Boards of Health,” he said. “So that makes over 50 percent of all the counties having a comprehensive clean-air policy in place.”