Meeting to Discuss New Smoking Ban in Madison County


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For seven years, people in Madison County have been told they can’t smoke in indoor public places. But last month, the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down Bullitt County’s smoking ban, which was enacted by a board of health and not elected officials.

That ruling could also affect Madison County’s ban. So now the county’s board of health hopes the county’s elected officials will pass a new smoking ban.

In Richmond, Berea, and all parts of Madison County, there has been a smoking ban in indoor public places since 2007. But it’s news now because the health board met to discuss that old ruling because they’d rather be safe than sorry.

“We spent two years going out into the community, making them aware of this,” said Dr. Stuart Tobin, the health board chairman emeritus.

And on Wednesday night, they voted with the motion passing 9-1. That motion is to take action with elected officials from the county’s three local governments to put in place a new ban.

“We had a warning, and we’re trying to get ahead of the game I guess you could say,” said Dr. John Johnstone, the health board vice chairman.

That’s because they are worried their ban could be found invalid by the Supreme Court. That just happened in Bullitt County where their regulation was passed by their board of health consisting of appointed members, not elected officials.

“It’s widely desired by the people of Madison County,” said Dr. Johnstone. “It’s not a matter of a few people on the health board thought this was a good idea.”

But Wednesday night’s vote was 9-1, meaning one board member still doesn’t support the smoking ban.

“My position has nothing to do with smoking,” said Michael Oliver, a health board member. “It has to do with individual rights and they extend well beyond smoking.”

But the majority vote pushes it forward as board members wait to make they’re next move.

It’s not something restaurants in Madison County tell us they are worried about since they’ve already had the smoking ban in place for seven years now.

Health board members say they’ve researched the benefits of their smoking ban over the past seven years, finding indoor air pollution is down 95 percent.