West Virginia Smoking Ban Exempts Casinos, Veterans

If casinos and racetracks designate at least 10 percent of their indoor space as non-smoking, they'll be exempt from a smoking ban recently passed by the West Virginia senate. The ban also exempts veterans and active duty U.S. military organizations from indoor smoking rules established by local boards of health.

The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill by 22-12 banning indoor smoking, but it allows exemptions for racetracks and casinos if they assign at least 10 percent of their indoor space as non-smoking. The measure also exempts certain veterans’ organizations and active duty U.S. military organizations from local boards of health indoor smoking rules. The West Virginia House of Delegates now is considering the bill.

The measure’s author, state Senator Craig Blair, said health departments should not be making laws. He noted state smoking regulations currently are determined by the health department in each county. “It’s our job, but not health departments’. Frankly, these people went and fought for our freedoms. This is a taxed and legal activity.”

Opponents of the legislation included state Senators Tom Takubo and Ron Stollings, both doctors. Tabuko said, “Our role should be to make the state healthier, and I think this is a big step backwards if this were to pass.” Takubo added one of the reasons he objected to the bill was because second-hand smoke poses a real health risk. Stollings stated, “This is a step back in all the public health efforts we’ve made over the past several years. The number one killer is tobacco. I guarantee you I’ve not gotten one person to support this bill. Veterans have said, ‘Don’t allow us to smoke in our facilities.’”