Cigar At Capitol Raises A Stink

Ron White WHEELING – The Ohio County Tobacco Prevention Coalition is disappointed comedian Ron White was permitted to smoke a cigar on stage at the Capitol Theatre during a recent performance.

But Denny Magruder, theater manager, said it is not known whether White smoked a real cigar or an electronic cigar during his Jan. 27 act. Currently, electronic cigarettes and cigars are not banned in Ohio County.

During a Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health meeting this week, Pam Wilson, American Lung Association Regional Tobacco Prevention coordinator, spoke on behalf of the coalition, expressing disappointment in White being allowed to smoke during his show. Smoking is prohibited in buildings in Ohio County.

Health department Administrator Howard Gamble said he made sure Magruder was aware of the smoking rule. Magruder said Thursday that he informed White’s representatives of the smoking ban. But just in case, Magruder had a city firefighter, equipped with a fire extinguisher, standing behind the stage curtain during White’s show.

“Safety is the No. 1 issue with us – for our guests and audience,” Magruder said.

Gamble said he received an anonymous complaint about White’s on-stage smoking, triggering an investigation by the health department. He said, however, it likely will be difficult to prove in court that the ban was violated because a sanitarian was not there to see White smoking. The board of health’s regulation holds a business or venue owner responsible for smoking violations, not the individual who was smoking.

“Our concern was what if someone in the audience decided to light up as well, and then more and more people lighted up. And then you have a real situation on hand,” Wilson said.

After the meeting, Desmond Lekanduos, a former coalition co-chairman, said he attended the Ron White show. While sitting in the balcony, he claimed he could smell smoke coming from the stage and that it made him feel ill.

White’s publicist and manager could not be reached for comment.


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