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Bar definition outlined in smoking ban amendment

March 06, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Board of Health unanimously passed an amendment Friday to the 2003 Clean Indoor Air Regulation, sharpening the definition of bars.

But to restaurant owner Danny Smith, the group more importantly finally cleared the way for him to take the same steps as Charles Town Races & Slots to keep smokers happy in certain designated areas in his establishment.

"All I want is a level playing field," Smith said.

Smith, who owns The Anvil in Bolivar, W.Va., said at the start of the meeting that he had a problem with a Board of Health's regulation that was adopted last July and enacted in September.

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"Why would you give an exception to the biggest smoke factory in the county?" Smith asked, referring to the racetrack. But then he tempered his philosophical quandary by shifting to a fairness issue.

"I have no problem if we are all treated the same but you are digging into my pocket and driving people to the racetrack," Smith said.

Smith said he has been content to ban smoking in his restaurant and other common areas but wanted to continue to allow smoking in a small separate room that houses gaming machines.

Smith asked that the regulation be amended further to say that his gaming room would be allowed to have smoking with a ventilation system that exchanges the air six times an hour .

Randall C. DeHaven, Board of Health administrator, told Smith that wouldn't be necessary.

"The Board of Health has already said it would entertain proposals from other establishments seeking exceptions," DeHaven said.

DeHaven further explained that such a proposal would have to be submitted to the Board of Health before any work is done to make sure it is acceptable.

"It can't just be a fan stuck in a wall and a curtain," he said.

After hearing DeHaven's assertion, Smith said he was hopeful that fairness will prevail.

"I'm hearing today that the Board of Health is willing to consider the same rules for me as the racetrack," Smith said.

Board of Health Chairman Robert Johnson said that was correct.

"We have been on the record from the start to the fairness," he said.

The amendment voted on Friday defines a bar as a business "whose gross sales of alcoholic beverages are 80 percent or more of their total gross sales."

When enacted last September, Jefferson County joined Berkeley and Morgan counties, both of which passed smoking bans within the past two years. In all three counties, smoking is allowed in bars.

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