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News Summary

Bill seeks to snuff out smoking bans

Publication Date: 1/28/2015
  • Author:IAN HICKS
  • Publication:The Steubenville Herald-Star

Local health boards could see their authority to regulate smoking extinguished under a bill before the West Virginia Legislature.

Introduced Thursday, House Bill 2208 - also known as the "Elected Official Accountability Act" - would relegate health boards to an advisory role and give county commissions sole authority to restrict smoking. If passed, the bill would require commissioners in counties where health boards already are enforcing smoking bans to vote on whether to adopt those rules by ordinance.

Del. Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, is the bill's lead sponsor, and his district's other delegate, Mark Zatezalo, also R-Hancock, is among seven additional co-sponsors, all Republicans. The Hancock County Board of Health last year passed a ban on smoking in public places that is set to go into effect in July, over the strident objections of the county's largest employer, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. Officials there fear the ban will be devastating to its bottom line...

Dr. John Holloway, Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health chairman, said he opposes stripping local health boards of the authority to regulate smoking.

"It's highly appropriate that a board of public health would deal with health hazards, and secondhand smoke is a huge health hazard," he said. "This is a public health decision. ... It should not be a political decision."