The Berkeley County, W.V. Board of Health passed a set of strict indoor air regulations on Tuesday evening, but not before making some changes to the ordinance that provides a narrow exemption for retail tobacco stores. The five-member board passed the new regulations by a vote of 4-1.
According to WVMetroNews.com, the board voted to allow an exemption for owner-operated stores with no employees and that are in a stand-alone building. A post on Facebook from Glynn Loope of Cigar Rights of America indicated that there is only one premium cigar retailer in the county, King Street Coffee & Tobacco Emporium. As of Tuesday night, the store had not posted any reaction to the decision on its Facebook page or website, and it remains unclear how the exemption will affect it.
A second change was made to provide for the allowance of self-regulation in open areas, which the report says includes festivals, fairs and parks.
Bars and private clubs were not exempted from the bill, which can be read in its draft form here. The board has not posted an updated version or any formal announcement of the passage of the regulations.
Private residences, including individual apartments or housing units which are part of a multi-unit residential housing project or apartment building, were not part of the smoking ban, except when used as a child care facility, adult care, foster care or other similar social care.
The ban, which the report says affects 84 of the 650 businesses in the county, will go into effect on July 1.
Berkeley County is the second largest county in the state with a population of approximately 107,000 residents. It is located in the northeastern part of the state, adjacent to the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.