A Harrison County business organization thinks new rules restricting public smoking is a good idea.
The Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, which has 429 members, this week endorsed changes to the county indoor air policy proposed by the Harrison-Clarksburg Board of Health that would ban smoking in most indoor public places.
The chamber's board of directors made the decision after hearing a presentation by advocates of the ban, said Kathy Wagner, the chamber's executive director.
"They voted on a resolution of support for the (proposal)," Wagner said. "It passed unanimously."
Part of the chamber's mission is to promote the quality of life in the county and the proposed smoking restrictions would do that, Wagner said.
"It fits in with part of our mission," she said.
Before the health department can enact the new rules, they must conduct a public forum. That meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the 4-H Center on U.S. Route 19, south of Clarksburg.
Health board member Joyce Rabanal and Harrison-Marion County Tobacco Prevention Coalition member Delia Naranjo made the presentation to the chamber, said Ben Hardesty, outgoing president.
During the presentation, board members saw statistics from other counties in the state that already have strict public smoking rules, Hardesty said. Those numbers showed that such rules do not hurt business, as some critics have suggested, he said.
Some area restaurant owners have said they expect the ban will hurt business and be difficult to enforce. Some smokers also have said the ban will violate their personal liberties.
Last year, the health board was approached by the Harrison County Medical Alliance, the Tobacco Prevention Coalition and private citizens about enacting changes to the clean indoor air policy that would ban smoking in most enclosed public spaces.
The ban would apply to restaurants, but not to bars, private residences used as a child care facilities, hotel and motel rooms, (unless designated as smoking rooms), tobacco retail stores, and conference or meeting rooms of hotels, motels and fraternal organizations being used for private functions.
Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at email@example.com.