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News Summary

Smoking bans and smoking politics

Publication Date: 2009-03-16
  • Author:Phil Kabler
  • Publication:The Charleston Gazette

Newest bad bill of the session: Legislation introduced in the House (HB2932) to require county commissions to approve any public health department restrictions on smoking in public or private places.

The sponsors, including Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, insist that it is not about overturning smoking bans, but to bring "transparency" to the policymaking process of public health boards.

However, it's curious then that the bill applies only to smoking regulations - not any other health regulations those boards might enact.

It's also bad public policy, since boards of health were intentionally designed to be beyond the reach of politics. (The idea is to avoid scenarios where a politician could overrule health inspectors' shutting down a restaurant for serious health code violations because the owner happens to be a relative or friend of the politico.)