Commission should get on with smoking ban

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At the rate the City Commission keeps delaying a decision on a smoking ban in restaurants and bars, the Commissions ban on smoking in city government buildings set to begin July 12 will be old news while restaurant patrons continue puffing away.

This week the Commission put off the smoking ban issue once again to await a report from the Health Department. What can the Health Department report other than that a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars is a most worthy endeavor for the commissioners?

In the time the City Commission has waited for the Health Department to tell it what to do, Letcher County has enacted a smoking ban, and now Morehead is taking up the cause.

Is the capital city of Kentucky to be the last city in Kentucky to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars? Lexington, Louisville and Georgetown are among cities that have looked at the issue and passed ordinances banning smoking.

City Solicitor Robert Moore provided copies of those three ordinances for commissioners this week. They vary somewhat in the exemptions they permit and penalties for violations, with Georgetown coming in with the most extensive ban involving all public places.

While the Frankfort City Commission isnt likely to go that far a smoking ban for restaurants and bars apparently is difficult enough here whatever ordinance materializes eventually once the Health Department makes its report should be comprehensive and contain few, if any, exemptions.

Exemptions only make enforcement more difficult and confuse the public about where smoking is and is not permitted.

Surely, the commissioners will agree that if smoking should not be permitted in city-owned buildings for health reasons, smoking should not be permitted in restaurants and bars for precisely the same health reasons. Indeed, to make city government smoke free as of July 12 and then waffle on and on about smoke-free restaurants and bars is the epitome of hypocrisy.

So get on with it. The Health Department will approve.

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