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News Summary

Smoking ordinance study planned

Publication Date: 4/14/2014
  • Author:Jenni Vincent
  • Publication:Martinsburg Journal

Sen. Herb Snyder is no stranger to the "local firestorm" that's been created each time a local, county health department considers adopting an ordinance limiting or banning smoking.

Snyder, D-Jefferson, believes part of this problem could be addressed by taking action at the state level - a possibility that will be studied during the upcoming legislative interim sessions that begin in May.

Public confusion and upset - not unlike concerns that have been voiced locally as the Berkeley County Health Department board considers adopting a new ordinance banning all smoking in public places - isn't helped by the fact that these agencies are depending on a state Supreme Court ruling as proof that this kind of regulatory action is proper, he said.

"Today there is a very mixed bag of different smoking ordinances throughout the state, with many counties having no smoking ordinance at all. But there is no specific statutory authority given to county health departments to adopt these smoking ordinances," Snyder said.

"Counties have relied on the very general statutory language that gives them authority to 'impose quarantines and anything else for the good of the public health.' My committee will study creating a statewide standard smoking ordinance statute," he said...

"There are real benefits to everyone involved by having a standard smoking ordinance. The legislature could adopt the details such as air handling equipment sizes for establishments that wish to allow smoking in certain areas," Snyder said.

"The race tracks could be exempt, or have to meet the air handler requirements," he said..