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News Summary

Bill in legislature looks to end smoking in public places

Publication Date: 2/7/2011
  • Author:ANNA SWIFT
  • Publication:The Parthenon

A bill is pending in the West Virginia Senate that would place a statewide ban on smoking in public, but not private, places.

The bill, SB 25, was proposed by Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, to reduce both health problems and health costs on the state.

"The data regarding the public health is clear," Foster said. "They've shown unequivocally that, in a county which has clean air ordinances, the number of heart attacks going into the emergency room drops by about 40 percent once they're in place. And that all leads, of course, to decreases in health care costs."

Foster, who sponsored the Senate bill last year as well, said he introduced it to get a discussion going and doesn't expect it to actually take flight until more counties are onboard with their own smoking regulations.

"It's not my intention really to have it run yet," Foster said. "The concern is if you run it before you have an overwhelming number of counties that are at that level, then you run into the trouble of having amendments made and exemptions put in. So I'm not planning on having it run. It's mostly an education process about why this is important and when we would be best to do it on a statewide basis."

The Cabell County Health Department placed a ban on smoking in bars, clubs and video lottery parlors in January of last year. Smoking in restaurants and public buildings is also prohibited by the department.

Marshall University likewise prohibits smoking in its buildings, dormitories, stadium and within 10 feet of doors, according to dean of Student Affairs Steven Hensley.

The Senate bill, however, would prohibit smoking in all public places, government vehicles and 15 feet from doors, windows and ventilators. Fines for such violations would range from $100 to 250 on the first offense.