West Virginia (WVa) - Mid-OHIO Valley Health Department a healthy place to be..

September 21, 2010 - Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department (MOVHD) serves the City of Parkersburg, Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt & Wood Counties with additional WIC offices in Jackson, Gilmer and Mason Counties.

Background: West Virginia does not have a statewide smoke-free law that provides adequate protection against exposure to secondhand smoke in public places. In West Virginia, 26.5% of the adult population (aged 18+ years)—over 378,000 individuals—are current cigarette smokers. West Virginia ranks 51st among the states. Smoking & Tobacco Use State Highlights West Virginia)

Bruce Adkins, director of tobacco prevention for West Virginia's Bureau for Public Health, "Our smokers are hardcore, long-term, very addicted pack-a-day smokers," says Adkins. "Quite frankly, they don't want to quit." (States With The Most Smokers, Rebecca Ruiz, Forbes.com, 2/18/2010.)
Dick Wittberg, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department: the Clean Indoor Air Regulation needed fine tuning in language. "The current definition of 'enclosed space' has caused the health department some problems in regulating indoor smoking," Wittberg said. "So, we are going to take the Ohio definition of an enclosed space." The state of Ohio defines an enclosed space as two walls with a roof, which gives establishments less leeway on indoor smoking.

"The intent of the (original) regulation was to end smoking in public buildings, but because our regulations only list that it has to be 15 feet from a door and have outside air, we are seeing smoking where there shouldn't be," Wittberg said. Instead of being allowed to smoke in the specially constructed rooms, smokers will have to go outside - at least 15 feet from the entrances. Miller said the new regulations is in response to smoking studies that concluded the separated rooms were not working. "Studies show that even with ventilation systems in the room it didn't help," Miller said. "The smoke was still in the building, even if the rooms were separated." Miller said the board of health wanted smoke out of the building. Wittberg said the intent of the new wording is to end all indoor smoking.

"This will make it so there will be no smoking allowed indoors," Wittberg said. "It will make life a lot easier for my sanitarians and will be easier to enforce than the previous regulations." The department's regulation, which covers six counties, including Wood, went into effect in 2005. The initial phase gave restaurants, bars and video lottery establishments three years to become smoke free.

The final component, effective October 1, 2008, banned smoking in all bars, restaurants and video lotteries. The new change will go into effect in October 2010.

The only exemptions to the smoke ban are nonprofit bingo halls, designated hotel rooms, meeting facilities in hotels or fraternal organizations that allow smoking and retail tobacco stores. Children are not allowed in the meeting facilities in hotels and fraternal organizations where smoking is permitted.

Tony Richards, chairman of the board of health, said the change will give business owners a more clear definition of a smoking room. "Back at our September board meeting, we had a community member ask us to define the term 'enclosed space.' We formed a work group to look at that definition and decided we needed to clarify and redefine the term," said Richards. Many businesses in the Mid-Ohio Valley will be impacted by the definition change, and most of the smoking rooms may have to be closed, he said.

References: Health board OKs change to anti-smoking definition by JOLENE CRAIG (jcraig@newsandsentinel.com) and NATALEE SEELY (nseely@newsandsentinel.com). NewsandSentinel.com, 11/25/2009; New smoking regulations have business owners fuming
by JODY MURPHY (jmurphy@newsandsentinel.com), NewsandSentinel.com, 9/19/2010.