Sustained Outrage

State ducked duty on smoking ban, commissioner says

commissioner-carper.jpg Earlier this week, Nitro City Council members proposed the city change jurisdiction to the Putnam County Health Department and away from the Kanawha County Health Department to avoid Kanawha’s smoking ban. The ban affects Nitro’s Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center.

The Kanawha-Putnam county line runs through Nitro, but the racetrack is in Kanawha County.

Putnam County officials say such a change would over extend an already overburdened department.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said Wednesday Nitro’s attempt to jump ship, is a result of the state’s not taking responsibility for policy.

“This should have been decided by the Legislature,” Carper said. “They had the legal authority and responsibility and they kicked this can to the health department to deal with.”

Under current law, it is up to health boards in all 55 counties to devise smoking regulations.

Carper said when the Legislature faces unpopular decisions, lawmakers leave the hard choices to counties. All-terrain vehicles and Sunday hunting are other subjects that the Legislature left to local governments to manage. The outcome is that West Virginia residents could have 55 different policies on these issues that cross county lines.

“The Legislature created this mess. They ought to get full create for this,” he said. “It’s not the county commission or health board in charge of creating laws, it’s the state Legislature.”