Leaders in Mayfield, a town with a rich tobacco heritage, approve smoking ban

UPDATE, July 9: The ban passed 5-4 on second reading. It will take effect in 2014 and “excludes spaces used primarily for sleeping such as hotels, hospices or
nursing homes, rooms designated for social functions and separate
smoke-proof enclosures with a heating and air conditioning system,” WPSD-TV reports.

In a Western Kentucky county speckled with tobacco farms, the only sizeable town may extinguish smoking in public, enclosed spaces. By a 6-4 vote this week, the Mayfield City Council approved first reading of a smoke-free ordinance that would punish violators with fines.

The ordinance has to pass a second reading on July 8 to go into full effect. Mayor Teresa Cantrell said she wants to add her city to the list of cities with bans, even though she would not have agreed with a ban in the past, reports Jason Hibbs of WPSD-TV in Paducah.

“What has changed my mind is the realization of the public-health hazard and mainly as it pertains to the workers in the restaurants,” Cantrell said. Many residents think the smoking ban is long overdue, despite Graves County’s rich tobacco heritage.

“I have a little one and I don’t want her to be around smoking if she doesn’t have to be,” restaurant customer Britanee Handley told Hibbs. Handlee doesn’t smoke, avoids smoky places for her baby’s sake and can’t wait to see all the ashtrays in the town disappear, reports Hibbs. 

Cantrell told Hibbs that she visited three Mayfield restaurants during lunch hour and their smoking sections were completely empty, and one restaurant manager discussed removing the smoking section from his restaurant because most customers don’t want to smoke.

Council members who voted against the ban said business owners should be able to decide smoking policy on their own, reports The Paducah Sun.

Cantrell told Hibbs said the Mayfield ordinance is modeled after a well-received ordinance passed in Paducah in 2006. It requires ashtrays to be stowed away and prohibits smoking within 15 feet of public places, but it does grant exceptions for hotels, nursing homes, rooms designated for private social functions, tobacco retailers and designated indoor smoking areas.

If the ban is passed in July, violators of the ordinance will be assessed a $50 fine for a first violation, $100 for a second and $250 for a third, and after that could face a restraining order or permanent injunction. To read the proposed ordinance, click here.

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