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Clearing the air

Even if you were from Mars, you would quickly become aware of a proposed smoking ordinance in Harrison County. Signs, cards and petitions are located most everywhere voicing concern, if not outright opposition, to the ban.

The Harrison-Clarksburg Board of Health had scheduled a public hearing on the ordinance, but postponed it in order for the members to better understand how the ban would work. It should also be pointed out that the hearing was delayed after our newspapers published several strongly worded letters to the editor that denounced the ban.

As staff writer Jennifer Biller wrote this past Sunday, the proposed clean air regulations would ban smoking in all public venues in Harrison County. But there are exceptions. Smoking would be allowed in bars or restaurants with bars. There would, however, have to be adequate ventilation so as to prevent the smoke from the bar area from drifting into the non-smoking area.

Smoking would also be allowed in hotel conference rooms and in private fraternal clubs.

The Board of Health has yet to reschedule the public hearing, but we hope that when it is finally held that cool heads prevail. Some smokers have reacted strongly to the proposal -- in our opinion, overreacted.

It is not a God-given right to smoke in a public place. The evidence on the dangers of secondhand smoke is too much to ignore. There are other counties in West Virginia that are smoke-free, including Taylor, Upshur, Gilmer and Monongalia. Mon County has had a regulation in effect since 1992 and the Republic has not fallen.

The Board of Health needs to press ahead with this issue.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board which consists of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Nora Edinger and J. Cecil Jarvis.

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