Commission Asked to Help With Smoking Ban

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THE INDEPENDENT ONLINE | LANA BELLAMY | JANUARY 8, 2015

David Little, an organizer for Smoke Free Kentucky, approached Ashland’s board of commissioners Thursday asking for their help in pushing local state lawmakers to support a statewide smoking ban this year.

Little said he is responsible for rounding up support on this issue in four counties (Greenup, Carter, Boyd and Lawrence) and is focused on two state legislators: Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson, and Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson.

 For the past few days, he said he has been traveling to city government meetings and newspaper meetings in his focus counties, trying to find local support for the initiative calling for smoking bans in all public facilities in Kentucky.

Some counties have already approved measures to rid public buildings, such as restaurants and hotels, of indoor smoking, but Smoke Free Kentucky is a group looking to get legislation mandating all counties and cities adopt these policies, whether they like it or not.

Legislation went into effect this year regarding smoking bans that go further than banning the practice within government buildings, but also prohibit tobacco use on government campuses.

When asked if a statewide smoking ban would be the group’s end-all effort in fighting public smoking, Little said the sweeping ban may “be all the culture of Kentucky can stand.”

“It (the ban) would be such a big victory… I think everybody will be happy with that,” he said.

Little told the Ashland commission Webb was an “key” vote in the General Assembly and she is “on the fence” about the issue.

He said Ashland’s own smoke free policy has brought the city health and economic benefits that he hopes the commission would want to see continued throughout the rest of the state.

“You have representatives from this region that are key votes in the Frankfort legislature,” Little said. “…. Anything you can do individually or collectively, members of the community, members of the media here, particularly with Sen. Webb…. I’m here to push as many people that understand the need for a new policy to push them to persuade her…”

Though Webb represents the 99th Senate District (which includes Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties), York represents the 96th House District, which only includes Carter and Lawrence counties.

When asked why Little did not mention Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, or Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, Little simply said he was not assigned to get support for those legislators.

In clarifying his presence at the commission, Little told the media he was not a lobbyist, but simply a representative of the interest group.

Little said he is hopeful, based on individual conversations with Mayor Chuck Charles and Commissioner Kevin Gunderson, that these two will come out in support of the issue.

The commission made no comment on whether or not it supported the statewide ban during Thursday’s meeting.

 

Read the article online.