Unintended consequences will continue, as the Cabell-Huntington Board of Health implements its new proposal to ban smoking in bars and gambling parlors in Cabell County. As with the earlier ban on smoking inside of designated businesses, and other public places, many smokers will be required to exit the bars and gambling parlors to smoke each time they wish to light up.
Since initially enacted, the original health department rule requires all smokers, both customers and employees of affected businesses, to smoke outdoors. The intent was for smokers to deposit their unspent cigarette butts in a disposal unit. Some businesses have chosen to provide cigarette disposal containers for the convenience of smokers; many have not. The Downtown Huntington Rotary Club has been providing the containers as a public service. Some smokers have chosen to use the disposal containers; many have not.
What have been the unintended consequences? The sight of cigarette butts lying all over public areas, even with disposal units present and available, mars Huntington and Cabell County retail shopping areas! The misplaced butts are obvious in the cracks of sidewalks and in adjacent landscaping and parking areas. As we have reported over the last four years, cigarette waste is the most littered item in Huntington and Cabell County. The just expanded smoking ban regulations will require thoughtful action on the part of the City of Huntington City Council and the Cabell County Commission.
We suggest legislation by both bodies to require all business owners to provide cigarette disposal units at each entrance to their businesses and the further responsibility to keep the area around the units and the sidewalks and grounds along the front of their businesses clean and clear of cigarette waste and other litter. Approved exterior smoking areas should be required and properly equipped to accommodate employees who wish to smoke. Proper penalties for non-compliance must be a part of the proposed ordinances.
Now, for the smokers who refuse to dispose of their cigarette butts properly, there must be a consequence for their unlawful actions. The city and county governments must assume responsibility for enforcing the current state and city laws related to littering. Other cities successfully maintain clean and attractive streets and highways. Our local government leaders must have the will to place the required monitoring system in place to neutralize the unintended consequences of the ever-expanding ban on public cigarette smoking and one of its obviously inherent negatives - improper disposal of its waste.
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