But Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, said there's no evidence that businesses suffered after Kanawha County's ban took effect in 2008.
"We've seen businesses' concerns be alleviated," he said. "Initially, they were concerned that business would go down because of it, but we haven't seen any trend to support that.
"In fact, I've had some businesses make comments that they're doing better because many of the nonsmokers now are able to come and patronize."
At the time the regulations were proposed in Putnam, crowds of bar owners and patrons gathered at public meetings to voice concerns. "It got quite heated," Haynes recalled.
Gupta believes, though, that it's not the health department's job to mediate businesses' concerns over smoking when scientific evidence proves the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.
"We must be the champions of the scientific evidence, not the politics of it," Gupta said. "The [health] boards in Cabell and Kanawha took a really courageous step.
"Before, when the Kanawha County Board of Health did it, it was pretty much based on science. Now, the trend has turned itself into where more people and politicians agree this has to be done and it's the most sound way of protecting citizens," Gupta said.
The lung association's report, which tracks state and federal policies and assigns grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens, gave West Virginia an "F" in every category, including funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke-free air, cigarette taxes and cessation coverage.
More than 3,800 West Virginians die each year from tobacco-related causes, according to the report. Tobacco also costs the state economy $1.7 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity, the report states.
Putnam was one of six counties the report assigned an "F," meaning "protections from secondhand smoke are inadequate or non-existent."
Haynes doesn't think Putnam will change its rules until the state mandates it, rather than leaving it up to individual counties.
"People who go in bars are usually smokers," Haynes said. "If you have the desire to have a beer [without smokers], you can do that at Applebee's."
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.