Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

December 14, 2012

Not the way

Only elected bodies should enact smoking restrictions

ASHLAND — By a  2-1 vote, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled an unelected county board of health can impose a smoking ban without the approval of the county fiscal court or any city councils or city commissions in a county. If it stands on appeal, the decision could greatly expand the number of counties in the state that restrict smoking in public. That would not bother us one bit except for how it is done.

Currently, countywide smoking restrictions are in place in 12 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. In counties like Boyd, cities like Ashland have approved ordinances to restrict public smoking, while the remainder of the county has let individual businesses and employers continue to establish their own rules about smoking.

The elected members of the fiscal courts in the 12 counties restricting smoking have done so by approving ordinances. That’s the way it should be. Restricting public smoking is so controversial in the state where tobacco was once the leading cash crop, that doing so should be done by the elected members of a county or city governing body who are accountable to the voters of the county or city.

However, in 2011, the appointed Bullitt County Board of Health approved a smoking ban in all public places, including restaurants, bars and some outside venues. However, the fiscal court and eight cities in the county opposed the ban and challenged the health board’s authority to restrict smoking in a lawsuit. The smoking restrictions were to take effect in September 2011, but enforcement of the restrictions has been delayed because of the lawsuit.

In its ruling, the court of appeals said state law gives health boards the authority to impose regulations or ordinances involving public health. We support restrictions on public smoking and wish more area cities and counties would follow the lead of the Ashland Board of City Commissioners in approving a restriction that has made dining in restaurants in Ashland much more pleasant and healthy.

 Despite the threats of opponents of the Ashland ordinance to work to defeat those commissioners supporting the smoking restrictions, the ordinance had no noticeable impact the next time commissioners faced city voters. All were re-elected, and the smoking ban was not even an issue during the campaign.

That’s not surprising. With three out of every four Kentucky adults being nonsmokers, they far outnumber the minority who insist it is their right to puff away whenever and wherever they choose. And even many smokers say they prefer smoke-free dining.

While there is no question smoking is a health issue, we don’t think legislators ever intended the unelected members of boards of health to have the power to restrict smoking in public. Even if the Kentucky Supreme Court agrees with the appeals court when its ruling is appealed, as it surely will be, decisions on public smoking still should be left up to elected officials, not to appointed boards whose members most voters do not even know and have no way of influencing.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • PAUL CHITWOOD: Ruling on same-sex marriage defies state constitution

    News that U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn once again usurped the will of Kentucky voters is tragic and disappointing. By declaring gay marriage legal in the commonwealth, Heyburn defied the essential, foundational governing document that ensures order and justice, the Constitution of Kentucky.

    July 8, 2014

  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • Magolene S. Fraley 1929-2014

    Magolene Spears Fraley, 84, of Wurtland, died Saturday in Community Hospice Care Center in Ashland.

    May 17, 2014

  • Business grant

    Morehead State graduate student Kayla Keeton, who received her undergraduate degree from MSU last spring and is now studying for her MBA at the school, has received a $5,111 grant from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to help her start Belles of the Bluegrass, a high-tech wedding planning business.

    May 16, 2014

  • Recovery Fest celebrates kicking addiction

    The wet weather no doubt impacted the size of the crowd at Saturday’s Recovery Fest 2014 at Veterans Riverfront Park in Ashland, but there were plenty of reasons for addicts who are now drug free to celebrate and for speakers like State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, and others to talk about the impact the prescription drug epidemic has had on this region and for others to distribute literature and offer words of encouragement that could convince some to seek help in their battle with their drug addictions.

    May 13, 2014

  • In Your View 5/13/14

    Letters to the editor:

    May 13, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
SEC Zone