WHEELING, W.Va. — The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health wants to get new opinions about its tabled plan to expand its smoking ban.
During a board meeting on Tuesday, chairman Dr. John Holloway suggested a subcommittee be formed that will talk to those who would be impacted by an expansion – including Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
The committee is expected to consist of Administrator Howard Gamble, Health Officer Dr. William Mercer and two board members, who were not chosen during the meeting. More discussion on the topic is planned for the board’s noon Oct. 14 meeting in Wheeling City Council’s Chambers.
The recent decision of the Hancock County Board of Health to institute a smoking ban with no exemptions, and the Brooke County Board of Health’s plans to consider a ban, has helped the Ohio County board renew its interest in its own measure. In 2011, the board tabled an expanded version of its ban that called for eliminating exemptions to the rule. If it passed as-is, it would prohibit smoking completely at the casino, along with stand-alone video gambling parlors and video gambling areas inside bars. It would also prohibit smoking in parks and ticket lines.
Mary Maguire of Wheeling asked the board to reconsider passing the expanded ban, as she believes it would make visiting Heritage Port during festivals more pleasant and safe for children.
“I don’t go to the Italian Festival myself because of the secondhand smoke. I know none of my neighbors go for the same reason,” Maguire said.
Susan Shoemaker, owner of Susan’s Antiques in the Centre Market area, said she also lives above her shop. She said she is tired of the smell coming from people smoking outside.
“I can’t leave my doors open. I can’t leave my windows open. It’s gotten to the point that it’s filthy down there. We really need to do something about the smoking down there,” she said.
Osi Imomoh, president and general manager of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, said he looked forward to having discussions with the board.
“I ask for an open mind and that you hear all sides,” Imomoh said, adding after the meeting that he likes the smoking ban as it stands.