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Community Voiced Opinions About Proposed Smoking Ban

"Because as years go on we become more knowledgeable of the dangers of second hand smoke the ordinance basically protects the workplace and it's employees from those dangers and we know what those dangers are," said Bill Kearns with the Berkeley County Health Department.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County residents and business owners voiced their opinions on the county's proposed clean air ordnance Wednesday evening.

"We're against smoking in the workplace and public areas because it harms people and affects the heath of everyone around them. And a regulation is for the protection of all public health," said one resident supporting the clear air ordnance.

"At our club they smoke. You have a choice to walk in there, watch a game, smoke a cigar, a cigarette," said one resident against the ban.

The county's ordnance hasn't been changed since 2001. This new ban comes after a proposal from the Tobacco Awareness Coalition. This was the only public hearing during the 30 day public comment period.

"Because as years go on we become more knowledgeable of the dangers of second hand smoke the ordnance basically protects the workplace and it's employees from those dangers and we know what those dangers are," said Bill Kearns with the Berkeley County Health Department.

If this regulation passes, Berkeley County will be the 25th county in West Virginia to eliminate smoking from bars, restaurants, gaming and other public places.

"It really is time to be a healthy county and we don't want to see anyone lose their job, we don't want to see anyone lose their business but we don't want to see people have to go to a, loose their life for a job," said George Blough, chairwoman of A Tobacco Awareness Coalition.

Many business owners, however, are concerned

"The freedom of choice, we don't feel that anyone should be told what to do, it's America for after all. Freedom of choice for owners, employers, players," said Chuck Gordon, owner of Cloud 9 Nightclub.

The Berkeley County Board of Health will vote on the ban during their next meeting on May 6. 

Berkeley County residents have until April 19 to submit comments about the proposed ban here. 

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