Hopkinsville council, absent a proponent, narrowly replaces smoking ban idea with plan to require posted smoking policies

The effort to pass a smoking ban in the largest Kentucky town without one may have hit a roadblock Thursday night. The Hopkinsville City Council forwarded a smoking ordinance that would merely require businesses to decide whether to allow smoking and post signs at every entrance announcing its policy. The council’s vote as a committee of the whole was 6-5, and the one absent council member favors a typical smoking ban.

Mayor Dan Kemp, who can vote to break council ties and does not sit on the committee of the whole, “said after the meeting that he could not support the proposal because it leaves the current law unchanged,” Carla Jimenez reports for the Kentucky New Era. The alternative ordinance is scheduled for first reading Sept. 18; a tie vote would block it, and a tie vote in favor of a smoking ban could be broken by Kemp to pass it.

As first presented to the committee, the ordinance would ban smoking in public places, with exemptions for private clubs,
age-restricted establishments and businesses with 12 employees or fewer. The small-business exemption was removed on a vote of 10-1. “That left the ordinance as it originally came before the council for its first reading in June,” Jimenez reports. But then the committee voted 6-5 for the alternative ordinance, proposed by Councilman Paul Henson, who argued, “We’re not abusing anybody’s rights. We’re not the bad guy, and yet we
have the smoking ban, a smoking ordinance, on the books.”

Councilwoman Peggy Rogers-Everett disagreed, saying smoking is a hazard to everyone, and “Murder is illegal.” Henson and Councilwoman Ann Cherry and Henson laughed, and “Everett was not amused,” Jimenez reports. Everett said, “I don’t find that funny. I don’t take that lightly.” (Read more)

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