Health dept. may update county indoor clean air policy

Mindy Kearns - For the Register

POINT PLEASANT — A work session to possibly update the county’s indoor clean air policy was held Thursday evening by members of the Mason County Board of Health.

According to Diana Riddle, nurse administrator for the Mason County Health Department, the current policy is now 15 years old. She said there have been many changes over the past 15 years that make the local policy outdated.

Riddle gave examples of the county policy versus policies in other areas of the state, noting locally there is a “Mom and Pop store” clause that allows different regulations for them as opposed to other businesses and public places. Signs are not current that are displayed throughout the county, and Mason County’s policy does not specify the number of feet that smoking is prohibited from an entrance.

The goal of a clean air policy is to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Tobacco Prevention website . Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mixture of smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products, (sidestream smoke), and the smoke exhaled by smokers, (mainstream smoke). The website states that secondhand smoke contains a mixture of more than 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which are known or probable human cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).

Riddle said the board members compared current comprehensive plans Thursday, and agreed to review them as a template for possible local changes. She emphasized the board is in the “very beginning stages” of a “possible revision.”

“Before anything is decided, we have to have public meetings and a public comment period,” Riddle said.

Thursday’s work meeting was advertised and open to the public, as well.

Members of the board of health are appointed by the Mason County Commission, and are made up of both political parties, as well as different magisterial districts. They include Winona McKinney, Diane Epling, Marketta Crum, Amy Roush, and Jeanette Bowen.

Riddle concluded that any updates to the policy will apply to all public places throughout the county.

Mindy Kearns

For the Register