Non-smokers in Morgantown can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The Breathe Easy Alliance of Morgantown celebrated the first day of the county-wide Clean Indoor Air Regulation by visiting former smoking establishments all over Morgantown. The group chose venues to visit and celebrate the implementation of the ban including 123 Pleasant Street, McClafferty's Irish Pub, Jay's Getaway and The Morgantown Brewing Company.
"We are thrilled to celebrate the implementation of the clean indoor air ordinance by visiting local establishments and letting them know we support their business and clean air," said Chris Roberts, chairman of BEAM. "Most people have been so supportive about the decision to adopt a clean indoor air ordinance and have been looking forward to this day for a long time."
Roberts said BEAM hoped to ease the transition for the establishments impacted in the ban by visiting them and showing their support.
"We really wanted to celebrate the decision being made," Roberts said. "We wanted to come out, celebrate this decision and work with others on going smoke-free."
The Monongalia County Health Department voted unanimously in January to enact the ban, which restricts smoking in most public spaces including all means of public transit, platforms and waiting areas, and every room or chamber of public assembly places, including schools and government facilities.
The ban also prohibits smoking in all bars, restaurants, private clubs, video lottery parlors, retail stores and tobacco businesses as well as all rooms in public health facilities and in enclosed shopping malls. The only establishments not regulated by the ban are existing hookah lounges, cigar bars, private residences not utilized as child care facilities and bingo operations that distribute more than 100 bingo cards or sheets.
Roberts said BEAM has worked since early 2008 toward creating a stronger ban prohibiting smoking in indoor areas in Morgantown and approached City Council with the ban as a way to initiate the process of becoming a smoke-free city.
"Our mission became to approach the city of Morgantown with the idea of ‘how could we get clean indoor air in the city?' So, we went to the city with an ordinance in 2009," he said. "It took a long time to work to pass the ban, and current city council upheld it. They've been so supportive. In passing it for the city, they decided to work with the Board of Health to make it a county-wide initiative."
Catherine Whitworth, a member of BEAM, said the ban has allowed non-smoking citizens in Morgantown more opportunities to visit restaurants and bars that were not an option in the past.
"We hope to be able to enjoy these downtown establishments that some of us haven't been able visit in the past because they were so smoky," Whitworth said. "We understand that some businesses are thrilled about it and have already made the change, and there are others that changed today and may have some customers who aren't really happy about it. They're transitioning to a new way of business, and we just wanted to show them the face of the new business they're going to get and check out these places we couldn't go to before."http://www.thedaonline.com