MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — There’s change in the air in Berkeley County. Two months after the health department voted for the county to go smoke-free, it’s time to put their plan in action. Starting July 1, a comprehensive indoor smoking policy went into effect.

Diana Gaviria, a Health Officer with the Berkeley County Health Department, says they’ve had a clean indoor air act in place since 2001. However, it excluded bars, video lottery parlors and fraternal organizations.

Berkeley County’s Comprehensive Indoor Clean Air Act goes into place July 1.

“We know there were a significant number of workers in the county who were not being protected under the previous ordinance,” according to Gaviria.

The board noticed especially high rates of tobacco-related illnesses of those in the hospitality sector. That was enough to start a series of public hearings and discussions to consider stricter regulations. After months of debate, the board voted to enact the comprehensive policy.

“We’re really trying to take a pro-active and positive approach. We think that for most workplaces and businesses this is a very positive message. It’s good for your employees. It’s good for your clients and customers,” stressed Gaviria.

Berkeley County has gone one step farther than many others, addressing a new form of smoking.

“The regulation treats e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products. The same as cigarettes,” explained Gavaria.

Another extra step the county took was to ban tobacco products from all medical campuses. That means people can not smoke anywhere, even outside, on the premises.

Gaviria said health officers will be doing compliance checks but, in the end, it’s up to business owners to butt out.

“To a great extent in the long run, this really depends on people self-enforcing. I think when businesses realize this is actually good for their business, we’re hoping to see self-enforcement.”

There is one narrow exception to the new clean indoor air act. The one place you can smoke in public is inside a tobacco retailer. That business cannot sell other products or offer other services.

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  • northforkfisher

    I'm glad to see that they included e cigarettes. I quit chewing 5yrs ago and the hardest thing to get away from was the nicotine. Most of these emails cigarettes emits a vapor that includes nicotine in it. So the me these things are not far to those of us who had the will power to quit or to expose children to the harmful vapors.
    I know they hawk these things as safe but they're just a new form of an old thing.

  • EP_Haters

    Jennifer, the last sentence is not true. The business can sell other products and offer other services, but at least 80% of sales need to be tobacco related.

  • Randy Bell

    Congratulations, I see people are getting shot in their own driveways but now at least when you get shot it won't be by a smoker. Way to focus on the important issues.