City Passes Strengthened Smoking Ordinance
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH, KY - Despite a couple of public comments against an enhanced smoking ordinance and an amendment to it, Paducah's City Commissioners voted four to one to approve the ordinance as it was presented.

After the ordinance was read, Mayor Brandi Harless moved up public comment, as there were some members in the audience wanting to speak on the issue.  Among those people speaking out in favor of the ordinance was Dr. Patrick Withrow who pointed out it has been a long, hard two years worth of work but believes the ordinance will improve the health of Paducah. He said the city has had a smoking ordinance since 2006, but it is considered a "moderate" policy.  The enhanced ordinance, he said, is considered a strong policy and has been proven to decrease the incident of lung cancer by eight percent.

Another citizen speaking out in favor of the ordinance was Larry Furman, who said he started smoking at age 11, which was 66 years ago, but stopped smoking 12 years ago. He said he has been diagnosed with COPD, congestive heart failure, as well as other diseases due to second hand smoke. He says it was his choice to smoke - whenever and wherever he wanted to.  But he said his views have dramatically changed and at the meeting to share his story and encourage the commission to pass the ordinance into law.

Residents John Watson and Yvonne Gray, both non-smokers, spoke out against the ordinance, as they both feel the ordinance overreaches into business owners' rights.  Gray, a business owner of apartments, says tenants are not allowed to smoke, but it was her choice as a business owner to make that decision. "I don't appreciate a city council or any government official coming along and saying you can't do something that's legal.  You can have it, you can possess it, but you can't use it. That's not making sense to me," said Gray.

Commissioner Richard Abraham said he was not on the commission in 2006 when the current ordinance was passed but probably would have voted against it. While he said he agreed with most of the ordinance, his concerns were about how it isolates a group of people and how it is enforced.

Commissioner Sandra Wilson spoke out to say she had had some of the same concerns Abraham did. Wilson pointed out the ordinance does not mandate that anyone say anything to people in violation of the ordinance. She said she received only two emails pertaining to the ordinance and they were in favor of it.

Wilson said she called Amanda Rogers, the director of city parks in Owensboro and that city enacted a smoking ordinance in 2014 and Rogers said they have not had any problems. Wilson went on to say she has faith in the citizens of Paducah that they will be respectful to each other.

Abraham introduced an amendment to the ordinance that would eliminate the section relating to the non-mandatory enforcement by citizens.  He wanted amendments exempting outdoor walking trails, shelters, and golf courses from the places where smoking would be prohibited.  Commissioner Abraham still wanted the prohibition of smoking in outdoors sports arenas, playgrounds, swimming pools, spraygrounds, and health parks. Harless called for a vote on the amendment and it failed in a 4 to 1 vote.

The new ordinance  prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and to all places of employment, whether public or private. Smoking will not be prohibited in retail tobacco stores and designated workplaces, or in private vehicles and private dwellings, unless the dwelling is also used as a childcare facility, adult day care center or assisted living facility.

It also does not allow smoking in municipal and school-owned outdoor sports arenas, amphitheaters, public or private owned outdoor playgrounds, shelters, swimming pools and spray-grounds, and municipally-owned outdoor public parks, playgrounds, trails, shelters, swimming pools and spray-grounds, except outdoors at Paxton Park Golf Course.

For information about other action taken by the commission, click the link below to visit highlights from the meeting.

On the Net:

City Commission website

Published 09:37 PM, Tuesday Apr. 10, 2018
Updated 05:48 AM, Thursday Apr. 12, 2018

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