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Would Ohio County be in trouble with a 100 percent smoking ban?

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Smoking is still allowed in Ohio County anywhere you can place a bet, but some health officials would like to change that.

On Tuesday, a meeting was held concerning making the county 100 percent smoke-free.

Several business owners spoke out, saying banning smoking even further would have a grave economic impact on Wheeling.

"Are you prepared to cut police and fire? Promise scholarships for our kids?” asked Herk Sparachane, president of the LVL Association and a local business owner. “There is no hiding behind it. That would happen."

Right now, the two exemptions are under discussion. They allow people to smoke in Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and in gaming rooms across Wheeling.

"The purpose of these regulations is for people not to be exposed to second-hand smoke,” said Dr. John Holloway. “People can still smoke, but not where their smoke affects others.”

Representatives with the casino had statistics saying Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Hancock County has suffered significantly since it went smoke-free.

"In the first year of their smoking ban, the West Virginia Lottery reported Mountaineer was down $25 milllion, and that was a 19.2 percent decline,” President & General Manager of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack Kim Florence said.

They say the city and county could also suffer because tax money generated would most likely be effected.

"The one thing about the money being tied into fire and police is maybe you realize after the weekend if gaming could be gone. Maybe we need to find a different place where that money comes from," said Dr. William Mercer.

More than a year ago, board members -- despite a public outcry -- decided to ban smoking in public outdoor areas like decks and porches where food is served.

They also put a ban on e-cigarettes in public areas.

They will meet again May 9.

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