West Virginia Lifts Smoking Ban in Casinos

A West Virginia county bucked a national casino trend and modern workplace health recommendations this week. The Hancock County Board of Health voted to lift the smoking ban in casinos to allow smokers back indoors at Mountaineer Casino & Racetrack as well as area video lottery cafes.

According to the Hancock County Health Board member John Plesa, the rule change will have an economic benefit for the county. Plesa said it will allow Mountaineer to compete with nearby Wheeling Island and Meadows casinos, which allow smoking indoors.

Plesa presented the motion to lift the casino smoking ban on Tuesday. The board voted in favor of the motion, which went into effect at casinos immediately. One member of the board, Dr. Anna Suray, was in “total disagreement” with the decision.

Dr. Suray felt so strongly opposed to the rule change allowing smoking in casinos that she resigned from her position on the county Health Board at the end of the meeting. Dr. Suray noted that the vote was only possible due to the addition of new health board members and would not have happened with the previous board members she served with.

Local residents attended the meeting to speak out against the amendment. One resident whose wife works at an area casino complained about the health effects the second-hand smoke will have on his wife as a new mother, and how they could spread to his 10-month-old daughter.

Another resident agreed that people should have the right to smoke, but not to endanger the health of others.

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