Monongalia County residents got another chance to make their case for or against the proposed countywide smoking ban during a special committee meeting Tuesday.

    City Manager Terrence Moore and county Board of Health (BOH) members Donna Tennant and Robert Wheeler make up the committee.

    About six people attended the morning meeting and the majority spoke in favor of a smoking ban. However, local businesswoman Christina Goodwin said it should come down to freedom of choice.

    “I think what we get away from is the fact that smoking is legal,” she said. “And if I put something on the door that says you have to be 21 to come in and that this is an establishment that allows smoking, the public should have the right to choose whether or not to come in.”

    Goodwin said she owns two video gambling parlors in Morgantown — Starz and Mavericks — that would be negatively impacted by the proposed regulation. Those who don’t want to be around smokers should choose to frequent nonsmoking establishments, she added.

    WVU Research Assistant Professor Michael McCawley spoke to the committee about the health hazards that smoking in public areas poses.

    He said allowing people to smoke in public places exposes members of the community to secondhand smoke, which can have harmful effects on the lungs and heart.

    “The primary role of the board of health is to help prevent disease,” he said. “So with nicotine addiction we want your assistance in helping us fight it, and one way you can help us fight it is to make it more difficult for smokers to smoke.”

    The BOH will consider the public input when making its final decision on the proposed ban. The board is expected to vote on the ban at a Jan. 9 meeting.

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