Hancock County health board hears feedback on smoking ban

Hancock County health board hears feedback on smoking ban

Local leaders are asking for leniency for certain establishments in regard to the smoking ban in Hancock County. The discussion has been ongoing, but at Tuesday night’s health department meeting the topic was discussed further.

West Virginia Delegate Mark Zatezalo says he has heard concerns from a number of establishments over the years in regard to the smoking ban in Hancock County.

Zatezalo and Lizabeth Gregg-Baldt, the chairwoman for the Hancock County GOP, both made pleas to the health department to consider allowing smoking in certain establishments.

"A lot of our soldiers, our veterans, they've gone to war, their friends died. They can now have a beer because they're of age, but they can’t have a cigarette too. It should be their choice," says Gregg-Baldt, "the revenue we've lost is unbelievable. We've already lost 16 companies that we know of, and there is 9 more that are going to close."

Administrator Jackie Huff says the board’s top priority is the health and well-being of those in Hancock County.

"We are often referred to as a smoking ban. We don't ban smoking. We just ask them to do it outside of an enclosed area, as to protect the people inside," says Huff.

Others asking for leniency are those in the vaping community. Jessica Doak, owner of Ella Vape in Weirton says vaping is a safer alternative to smoking and that the current language in the ban prohibits vaping as well.

"All we're asking for is that we, as a vape shop, are allowed to vape in our establishment. There's no children," says Doak, “it just makes sense to be able to vape in our vape shops, and it would help people transition from smoking to vaping so much easier."

Huff says they originally looked at studies on vaping when the ban was put into place 2 years ago, but are open to learning more on the topic.

"It could change, as everything does, and my board welcomed any information that could be supplied," says Huff.

Huff says the department is used to the questions and concerns raised at today's meeting, but feels Hancock County is better off now than it was before.

"The feedback from the general public has always been very positive. We have a few groups that we constantly hear from, but we need everyone to know that people are getting healthier in Hancock County," says Huff.

One of the solutions discussed at the meeting was the possibility for Delegate Zatezalo to look into the feasibility of putting the smoking ban on the ballot for residents to vote on.

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