POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Health is considering repealing and replacing its indoor air regulation from 2001 with a new proposal eliminating smoking in all public and private places of employment.
In addition, the proposal would prohibit smoking in any enclosed business offering goods or services to the public, as well as outdoor public places in Mason County.
The public can view a draft of the Mason County Clean Air Regulation of 2016 in its entirety at the Mason County Health Department, the Mason County Courthouse, the Mason County Library, the New Haven Library, Leon Library, Hannan Library and the Mason City Library during normal working hours.
A comment period on the proposal begins April 16 and ends May 17, allowing the public to voice issues, concerns or support to the Mason County Board of Health. Written comments should be mailed or dropped off to the Mason County Health Department at 216 5th Street, Pt. Pleasant, WV 25550 or e-mailed to Diana.L.Riddle@wv.gov.
The draft of the new regulation defines “public places” as:
- All means of public transit including taxis and buses, and all areas, including ticket, boarding and waiting areas.
- Public areas of aquariums, galleries, libraries and museums.
- Child care and adult day care facilities.
- Retail stores.
- All restaurants, bars, gaming facilities and private clubs.
- Every room, chamber, place of meeting or public assembly, including school buildings , under the control of any board, council, commission, committee, including joint committees or any political subdivision of the State.
- All patient rooms, waiting rooms and other public areas in health facilities, including, but not limited to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, physical therapy facilities, doctors’ offices and dentists’ offices.
- Enclosed shopping malls, including indoor flea markets.
- Hotels and motels.
- Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in multi-unit apartment buildings, condominiums, manufactured home communities, retirement facilities, nursing, homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities.
- Any facility primarily used for exhibiting any motion picture, stage, drama, lecture, musical recital or other similar performance.
- Sports arenas and convention halls, including bowling facilities.
- Polling places.
- Auction houses.
- All fire department facilities.
- All emergency medical services facilities
- Bingo operations.
The draft of the proposed new regulation defines “outdoor public places” as:
- Outdoor service lines, ticketing areas and boarding areas.
- Concourse areas of stadiums and outdoor seating of recreational venues.
- Outdoor serving areas of restaurants.
- All outdoor property, including parking lots and sidewalks of healthcare facilities.
- Public parks, including pavilions.
- Playgrounds, golf courses, etc.
- Fairs and Festivals.
The draft states, in any dispute arising under the regulation, the health concerns of the nonsmoker shall be given precedence.
Also, in relation to “Designated Outdoor Smoking Areas” the regulation states: To ensure the public access into public venues free from tobacco smoke exposure and to prevent tobacco smoke from entering protected areas, outdoor designated smoking areas shall occur at a distance of 20 feet or more outside any entrance, exit, or ventilation units of any buildings or enclosed area where smoking is prohibited. This shall include fresh air intake area for the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC) system of any building.
In terms of where smoking is not regulated, the proposal states, “The following areas shall not be subject to the smoking restrictions of this Regulation — 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. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, any person who controls any establishment described in this section may declare that entire establishment as a non-smoking facility.”
Enforcement of the regulation, if passed, would be up to the Mason County health officer with the Mason County Health Department inspecting any complaints. If found in violation, a person or business could be charged with a misdemeanor and assessed a monetary fine.
To be clear, this new regulation is just a draft, with the comment period now under way, allowing residents an opportunity to participate in the process. Already in Mason County, all campuses under the jurisdiction of Mason County Schools are tobacco-free, as is the Pleasant Valley Hospital campus. In addition, the City of Point Pleasant has prohibited smoking unless in designated areas at places like Riverfront Park and Harmon Park Ball Fields, with designated smoking areas denoted by signage.
Reach Beth Sergent at email@example.com or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.