Lexington task force to study no-smoking ordinance
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A Lexington task force will look into prohibiting smoking in indoor public areas, including workplaces, restaurants and bars.
The Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Council agreed Tuesday to study the pros and cons of creating a no-smoking ordinance. The task force it is creating could present its findings as soon as this fall or winter, said Dr. David Stevens, an at-large councilman.
"We expect there'll be significant disagreement," Stevens said. "We think we'll be working on this for a long time."
Members of Lexington Health United, a group of hospitals, government agencies and businesses that promotes economic prosperity in the health industry, presented the council with statistics and a suggested ordinance, which they hoped would persuade the council to support a no-smoking law.
The group says children and restaurant workers often are unfairly subjected to deadly chemicals -- such as cyanide, arsenic, and formaldehyde -- emitted by cigarettes. Lexington Health United officials said those children and workers dependent on restaurant jobs are the people least able to avoid secondhand smoke.
Councilman George Brown was the only council member who voted against the task force. Tobacco is a leading cash crop in Kentucky, Brown said, and such a law could minimize that crop's value.
And, he said, it's any person's right to smoke. Such an ordinance, Brown said, would be "infringing on an individual's freedoms."
The issue has come up in Lexington at least once before. In March 2001, the Health Department and the Mayor's Alliance on Substance Abuse conducted a random poll of more than 500 homes. Almost 40 percent said smoking should be banned in public eating places.
And 96 percent supported smoking restrictions in restaurants.