MARTINSBURG, W Va. - It was standing room only as community members listened and waited for the Berkeley County Board of Health to decide the fate of a new stricter smoking ban Tuesday afternoon.
"Clear indoor air is something that I do want to see happen for our community I think that we need to get with the times and neighboring communities are doing it, neighboring states," said Cara Harding, Board of Health member.
"I strongly feel that private businesses should have the right to self regulate. It's a personal preference, it's freedom of choice," said George Karos, Board of Health member.
During the meeting, the Board of Health revised several sections of this proposed clear air ordinance including having designated smoking areas at outdoor concerts and festivals and exempting retail tobacco businesses from the smoking ban.
The board approved the Clean Air Ordnance with revisions 4 to 1, which eliminated smoking from bars, restaurants, gaming and other public places.
From the start, some criticized the decision saying it could be bad for local business.
"And concerns about rights being violated and economic impact while those are certainly concerns and we listen to those, at the end of the day the Board of Health is charged with protecting public health," said Bill Kearns, administrator for the Berkeley County Health Department.
But many say this regulation is a step in the right direction.
"Our previous ordinance was good at it's time but it left a significant number of of people unprotected. And by passing this ordinance they are extending those protections to people who work in other places who haven't been covered before," said Dr. Diana Gaviria, Health Office at the Berkeley County Health Department.
The new clean air ordinance will be reviewed by county attorney's and then take effect starting
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