[West Virginia] ~ The Preston County Board of Health’s proposed Clean Indoor Air Regulation is starting to become the topic of controversy and conversation since it was first reported on Saturday, July 18. It was originally presented to members of the Board of Health during its Tuesday, July 14, meeting.
More drastic changes were proposed to include bars and gaming establishments, private clubs, and hotel/motels to the long list of places where smoking is prohibited. Electronic cigarettes and hookahs would be regulated the same as the traditional cigarette or cigar.
E-cigarettes were added, according to the draft regulation, due to the fact that research conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, which determined that “various samples tested not only contained nicotine but also detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals.”
Preston County Board of Health Director Denise Knoebel refused to comment. Other Board of Health members, including Chairperson Craig Rotruck, Wayne Williams, Kendra Baker, Mary Rae Benson, and Rosemary Houser. Houser was the only person on the board who was willing to speak at the time. She stated the Health Department is looking at potentially adopting the updated regulations.
We also heard rumors that Rotruck had resigned because of the proposed smoking regulation. Rotruck stated he had indeed resigned because he did not “like the direction the Board of Health is being forced to take.” He added, “I just don’t agree with how this smoking regulation is being forced on Preston County.”
In light of the Rotruck resignation, the health department scheduled an emergency meeting to find a replacement for Rotruck and the now vacant chairperson seat. That meeting is to take place on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at the health department offices located at 106 W. Main Street, Suite 203, in Kingwood.
The draft regulation has not been released officially by the Preston County Health Department or any member of the Board of Health. This is unfortunate since, if approved, it will impact all non-smokers as well as smokers in the county. Complete transparency is needed so that all affected can fully understand exactly what is being considered.