Morgantown's Dominion Post newspaper has won unrestricted access to nearly 3,600 public comments on a county-wide smoking ban proposed for Monongalia County.

It was granted by a local judge, upholding the Freedom of Information Act.

The health department previously denied the paper's request.

The newspaper had filed a complaint against the county Board of Health last week after the board refused to release unaltered copies of the written comments.

The board chairman had said the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the people who made the comments should be kept private.

Stone said citizens who write to a government official concerning a public issue lose their expectation of confidentiality.

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