W.Va. Senate Committee rolls back local authority over public health


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CHARLESTON — On Tuesday, the West Virginia Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed legislation that would take away local health departments’ authority to take action on smoke-free air ordinances and other public health policies. The following is a statement from Kristy Young, West Virginia government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“Today, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed legislation that will take away local health departments’ authority to take future action on smoke-free air and other public health policies without approval from county commissioners or the state health officer. ACS CAN and our coalition partners oppose legislation that would take away local control and make it harder for county health departments to enact future smoke-free air and other public health regulations in communities. These regulations protect West Virginia citizens from exposure to secondhand smoke and improve public health.

“Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure remain leading causes of preventable death and disease in West Virginia. More than 65 percent of the population in West Virginia, workers and patrons, benefit from smoke-free workplaces, including restaurants and bars, because of local smoke-free regulations put in place by local county health departments.

“ACS CAN and our partners in health call on the Senate to stop this legislation. Amidst a global pandemic, now is not the time to block future health and safety measures.”

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