KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Commission agreed Tuesday to speak to the county’s Board of Health regarding veterans’ concerns that a recently-enacted smoking ban is unfair to private clubs. President Janice LaRue stressed that the commission can’t override the health board’s decision to amend the Mineral County Clean Indoor Air Regulation of 2013.
“We do not have the authority to change their decision. We will take your concerns, we will record them, we will listen to what you have to say,” said LaRue to the standing-room–only crowd.
Many of those at the meeting feel the smoking ban is an infringment on their rights.
“Next time you want to fight a war don’t call me. If you are going to do this to me, don’t call me,” said Dallas Tabler, a member of the Ridgeley VFW.
The smoking ban could hurt businesses that have video lottery machines and bars. In Mineral County alone, patrons deposit more than $40 million a year in the limited video lottery machines, according to James Grapes, an advanced lottery technician in West Virginia. The lottery machines yield a net profit of $5.5 million to businesses in the county.
“In Grant County the poker revenues dropped about 75 percent because of smoking ban,” said Grapes, who suggested a resolution that required establishments to display a sign warning of the dangers of smoking.
Paula Boggs of Piedmont suggested that the smoking ban should exempt places like the Piedmont American Legion.
The amendment to the Mineral County Clean Indoor Air Regulation of 2013 that was approved on Aug. 12 by the Board of Health not only eliminates indoor smoking but also eliminates outdoor smoking at playgrounds, fairs and festivals.
“They gave us no consideration at that meeting,” said Boggs.
Paul Mcilwee, quartermaster of Nancy Hanks VFW Post No. 3518 said the smoking ban should have been brought to a referendum vote.
“People should have the right to vote on this. What gives five people the right to tell everybody what they can and can’t do,” said Mcilwee.
The updated regulation, which also eliminates indoor smoking in all public and private places of employment and any business offering goods or services to the public, takes effect Oct. 1.
Ray Shephard, who is a member of the Ridgeley American Legion and a non-smoker, didn’t think the smoking ban should include e-cigarettes.
“You not only took the cigarette away from the people but you took e-cigarette, which has not been proven to hurt anybody,” said Shephard. “I’m all from keeping smoking cigarettes away from the children. They shouldn’t be smoking out there near the playgrounds.”
Shephard further stressed that smoking should be allowed in clubs, where people pay membership fees.