NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. – The Hancock County Board of Health is seeking the public’s input on its proposed change to the clean indoor air regulations.
The county’s current regulations, established back in 1999, only bans smoking in some public buildings. The proposed change would tighten the restrictions.
“It includes all indoor areas, 100 percent clean air,” Jackie Huff, Hancock County Health Administrator said. “It also includes outdoor areas including playgrounds, fairs and festivals. People can still smoke in those areas as long as there’s a designated area.”
The draft of the document is now under a public comment period through Aug. 11.
Afterwards, the board will go through and consider what residents want done during the board’s meeting on Aug. 26.
“They’ll review the public comments at that time and then make a decision on the proposed regulations,” Huff said.
The board has already begun to receive feedback on the proposal. Most of which is in favor of the ban, according to Huff.
“The only conversation other than those in favor of the smoking [ban] being 100 percent are those talking economics.”
One group which has opposed the ban is the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort located in the county near Chester.
Already with decreased revenues due to competition from other states and online gambling, the establishment fears taking away smoking could possible drive even more customers away.
“I can’t be responsible for the economics of the county, I can only ensure the public’s health,” Huff said.
The board feels statistics from studies conducted about the health hazards which come with second-hand smoke justify the proposed ban.
“People are put at risk with second-hand smoke,” Huff said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a casino, a restaurant, a bar. The smoke is still the hazard that’s there and our board’s stance is regarding public health, protecting all peoples’ health.”
There are 25 local Boards of Health in West Virginia which have a 100 percent indoor smoking ban.
More information on the proposed ban can be found at hancockcountyhealthdepartment.com. Citizens can send in written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. To give comments in person, a public hearing will be held July 23 at 6 p.m. in the New Cumberland City Building.