Casino watches as Hancock votes on smoking ban Tuesday

NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. — The Hancock County Board of Health is set to vote Tuesday on a smoking ban that the county’s largest employer claims could cost it 20 percent of its business.

Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort—which features a staff of 1,300—has opposed the ban at every public meeting for the past year. The casino is in competition with gambling venues in other states and maintains that a total smoking ban would be devastating.

The proposal, previously approved in draft form, would eliminate smoking in all public indoor areas and some outdoor areas. It would mandate that smoking areas must be at least 20 feet from an entrance.

“The current regulation from 1999 is very vague as far as protection of workers and the public from secondhand smoke,” said Hancock County Board of Health administrator Jackie Huff.

While the casino and its workers have been vocal in their criticism of the ban, Huff said the health board must keep all residents in mind.

“Our board has reiterated we are in public health and have to look at second-hand smoke,” Huff said.

Casino officials said they installed a new clean-air system and feature smoke-free restaurants and a smoke-free video lottery parlor. They claim it’s a necessity to keep some areas for smokers to gamble or they will go someplace else.

The meeting of the five-member health board is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the New Cumberland City Building.

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