Less than two weeks after West Virginia’s smallest and northernmost county passed a smoking ban, its neighbor to the south is about to begin the process that could lead to a similar ban.
The board of health in Brooke County, home to just under 24,000 people and directly south of Hancock County, has announced a special public meeting to be held on Monday, Sept. 8 to discuss a possible smoking ban after meeting with the Brooke County Commission earlier this week. The board hopes to enact a 100% smoking ban in the county, but first must open a period of verbal and written comment from residents. Another public meeting is planner for October to give residents an additional opportunity to comment on the proposal.
Among the key changes sought by the board is the abolishment of a county law that requires bars and restaurants to designate at least 25% of their seating as allowing smoking and to make all establishments 100% smoke free. The proposal also seeks to make video lottery casinos in the county completely smoke free.
A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found Brooke ranked lowest among the state’s 55 counties for environmental factors that contribute to good health, according to The Intelligencer. Michael Bolen, Brooke County Health Department environmental supervisor told WTOV-TV that is a big reason why the change has merit. As such, the ban could expand to county parks and places frequented by children and families, particularly for events.
Additionally, the city of Weirton is part of both counties, and having a no-smoking law that matches Hancock County’s would avoid potential issues.
Update (October 8, 2014) — The Brooke County Board of Health held another public meeting Monday night and has announced that it will make its final decision at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 24 at 7:30 pm. While there are no other public meetings scheduled, written comments will be accepted until Oct. 18.