Smoke Ban Gets Put on Hold



That was the story at Monday’s meeting at Prestonsburg City Hall that should have resulted in a second reading and passage of an ordinance relating to a smoking ban within city limits.

Start and stall, and still no answer to the details or if the city will have a smoking ban at all, as city leaders tabled the second reading of the ordinance until its next regular meeting and effectively took no action of any kind on the issue.

This time around, city leaders made it roughly 45 minutes into discussion of an ordinance aimed at regulating smoking throughout pubic buildings in the city before the first council member said what might have already been on the minds of those attending.

“I don’t think it’s ready to be voted on by any means,” said council member Roy Roberts, a police officer by trade who had already expressed concerns with enforcing a smoking ban.

Until that point, the council had heard from council member B.D. Nunnery, as he read through several proposed amendments aimed at protecting the interests of local businesses from what he called “governmental intrusion”.

“I understand this is a very intense issue, but I’m not looking at this as smokers versus nonsmokers,” Nunnery said. “I believe this is too much of a governmental intrusion. I don’t feel like it’s the government’s right to tell me I can or cannot allow legal activities to go on in my own building”.

Some of those amendments included striking language to include the ban to any outside structures at restaurants similar to the outside seating area already in place at establishments such as Taco Bell and under construction at Reno’s Roadhouse, to include a ban on smoking in what was referred to as service lines leading into establishments though they exist outside the actual business, and also a change the 20-foot restriction at any entrances to public buildings to “a reasonable distance”.

Before a motion was made by council member Gormon Collins to table the second reading, the full council voted to accept these amendments, leaving only one hanging — an amendment that would allow a restaurant, established or newly opened, to institute an 18 or older policy. This policy would then leave room for that location to allow smoking in that particular business.

Yet another amendment would adjust the fines as they existed in the proposed ordinance. Currently individuals would be fined $50 per violation while businesses would see progressive fines of $100, $200 and $500 per violation. Nunnery proposed an amendment to adjust the third offense fine of $500 to $300 for business owners.

Nunnery’s concern with “governmental intrusion” stemmed, he said Monday, from the urge to find a common ground on the issue.

“This, to me, is a compromise,” Nunnery said, adding that he was against the ordinance as it stood without these amendments.

Council member Harry Adams, also a local business owner, agreed with Nunnery’s compromise.

“Being a business owner I can say we’re losing money every day,” Adams said. “But I can’t sit here and tell another business owner what he can or can’t do when it’s legal. This is a start. It’s not a cure for all of it, but it’s a start”.

Others say money has nothing to do with the issue. Collins has said the issue is and should remain about secondhand smoke. Some, like Jim Goble, a longtime Prestonsburg resident and community fixture, were more to the point in their views.

“I’m totally in favor of the smoke ban,” Goble told council members Monday. “I am opposed to the exclusion of any one group. It’s not about money. It’s about quality of life. Life and death”.

The council will revisit the issue again two weeks from now at their next regular meeting on Aug. 10 at 6 p.m.

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