The Hancock County Board of Health voted 5-0 on Tuesday afternoon in favor of passing the Hancock County Clean Air Regulation of 2014, a sweeping document that bans smoking in all public indoor areas as well as some outdoor areas.
Tobacco stores, parks, bars, private clubs and all hotels and motels are just a handful of the places where smoking will now be banned in the state’s smallest and northernmost county, home to just over 30,000 residents.
The only stated exemption in the regulation is for “private residences, including individual apartments or housing units which are part of a multi-unit residential housing project or apartment building, except when used as a child care facility, adult care, foster care or other similar social care.”
Both smokers and business operators can be cited for a misdemeanor and subsequently fined for violating the ban, which goes into effect on July 1, 2015.
Passage of the ban now puts the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in an interesting position, as the company had said that passage of the ban would mean a loss of 20 percent of its business. The casino, which employs some 1,300 people, is the largest employer in the county and has opposed the proposal since its creation. MTR Gaming has said that it was willing to create some smoke-free areas of the casino and hotel, but seemed to get no interest in that plan from the board.