WHEELING, WV — The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health approved a new Clean Indoor Air Regulation at their November 10, 2015 meeting. The regulation will take effect on March 1, 2016.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health first passed the Clean Indoor Air Regulation in 1996 and it was revised in 2005 and 2015.  The Clean Indoor Air Regulation is an important public health milestone in the effort to protect and improve the health and well-being of Ohio County residents. The regulation is also another good reason to quit smoking.

The Ohio County Clean Indoor Air Regulation protects people from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and 50 known cancer causing ingredients. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Each year, smoking accounts for an estimated 438,000 premature deaths, including 38,000 deaths among nonsmokers as a result of secondhand smoke. Half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related diseases.

The majority of U.S. communities and many international countries are now covered by smoke-free laws. Business and employers have a responsibility to provide a smoke-free workplace for all employees. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places within Ohio County and will now be prohibited in many outdoor public places like playgrounds, outdoor seating areas of restaurants and outdoor property of healthcare facilities. The revised regulation also includes the coverage of electronic smoking devices as being prohibited in areas where smoking is not allowed.

The revised regulation also prohibits smoking on all property including enclosed facilities, outdoor venues, buildings and vehicles owned by a governmental agency in Ohio County. Smoking is also not permitted at a distance of 20 feet from any entrance, exit, and exterior ventilation units.

Medical studies conclusively show that exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco causes illness and disease; therefore, it is in the best interest of public health that smoking of tobacco products be prohibited in public places and places of employment.

The Clean Indoor Air Regulation does provide from some limited exemptions. These include:

  • Private residences (including apartments or housing units which are part of a multi-unit residential housing project or apartment building), except when used as a child care, adult daycare, health care facility or residences that are registered with the State of West Virginia as personal or residential board facility.
  • Areas of Gaming and Entertainment Establishments that are devoted to the placement of video lottery machines and areas devoted to the placement of wagers on live or simulcast horse or dog races, their associated contiguous gambling facilities licensed by the West Virginia Lottery Commission and/or the West Virginia Racing Commission.
  • Free Standing Limited Video Lottery Rooms

Although these exemptions exist, any person or organization who controls an establishment described under the exemptions may declare that establishment as a non-smoking facility. The revised 2016 regulation can be found on the health department’s website, under the Community Information and Business Information tabs.

For more information about the Wheeling-Ohio County Clean Indoor Air Regulation, visit the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department website at www.ohiocountyhealth.com or call (304) 234-3682.