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Cabell County passes law banning smoking in public places


Monday, December 17, 2001

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Smokers take note: After the new year, lighting up a cigarette in a public place in Cabell County means you’re breaking the law.

Starting Jan. 11, 2002, the Cabell County Clean Indoor Air Regulation goes into effect. In addition to the places normally associated with the no-smoking regulation, such as elevators, schools and hospitals, the new law prohibits smoking in restaurants, bingo halls and indoor flea markets, as well as, tobacco stores, waiting areas for buses and at public places in Cabell County.

The new law will also prohibit smoking close to the entrances of areas were smoking is not allowed. Smokers must stand at least 10 feet from "the entrance, exit, or ventilation units of any enclosed area where smoking is prohibited to ensure that tobacco smoke does not enter the area through entrances, windows, ventilation systems, or any other means."

Smoking will only be allowed in freestanding bars – bars were 80-percent of revenue comes from selling alcoholic beverages – conference rooms in restaurants, hotels, and motels while the room is being used for a private function (only 25 percent of hotel or motel rooms can be designated as a smoking room).

Although the new law will be difficult, at best, to enforce, any business owner violating the law or anyone who decides to light up anyway can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined anywhere from $200 to $1,000 if found guilty.

The reason for the law, the health department cites, stems from studies that show smoking is a "major contributor to indoor air pollution, and that breathing second-hand smoke is a cause of disease in nonsmokers."

The health department cites lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory infection and decreased respiratory function as illnesses smoking is believed to cause.

The health department, in a section of the law, states the reason for passing the new law is "to protect the public health and welfare by prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment; and to guarantee the right of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air, and to recognize that the need to breathe smoke-free air shall have priority over the desire to smoke."