Countys smoke-free ordinance
draws praise, fire from community
elected magistrates postpone
original smoking ban until May 1
Helen E. McKinney
(February 2007) Scott Hack, a co-owner since 2003
of Fast Break Pizza in Crestwood, Ky., says he is proud that he has
operated a smoke-free restaurant since the business opened in Oldham
County. He is one of a few business owners who is not bothered by the
recent debate over a smoke-free ordinance.
by Don Ward
Break Pizza co-owner Scott Hack
has operated his restaurant smoke
free since it opened in 2003.
If anything, it is possible that we might see an
increase in business since other options where smoking is allowed wont
be available if the ban is passed, said Hack. Raised in Oldham
County, Hack said the timing of the ban is related to other nearby communities
that have passed similar regulations restricting smoking.
On Aug. 15, 2006, former Oldham County Judge-Executive Mary Ellen Kinser
formed a six-person committee to examine the issue of making Oldham
County smoke free. It took 3 1/2 hours of debate several months later
when this issue came up for a vote to finally arrive at the decision
to pass the ban.
The smoking ban was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1, 2007. But with
a new administration and new people elected to the Fiscal Court, the
ban has been postponed until May. Some magistrates believe more time
is needed to examine the prior vote, of which they were not a part,
especially since they are the ones who must deal with this issue and
enforce the ban if it goes into effect.
Just days before the ban was to take effect, magistrates passed an emergency
ordinance to push the start date to 12:01 a.m. May 1. The court voted
7-2 to delay the original ordinance to make Oldham County smoke-free.
Oldham County appeared to have jumped on the smoke-free bandwagon, following
a national and statewide trend by adopting this ordinance the first
go-round. Other communities such as Louisville, Elizabethtown, Lexington,
Georgetown, Frankfort and Madison, Ind., have adopted similar ordinances.
For his own business, Hack said the dining room in Fast Break Pizza
is open, and the owners didnt see a feasible way of separating
it into smoking and non-smoking sections. We also set up our dining
room with a sports bar feel, but to help keep it more family friendly,
we kept it smoke free.
Foreseeing a future decision on this issue, Oldham County Chamber of
Commerce Executive director Deanna Epperly Karem said she was not surprised
at Fiscal Courts passing of the smoke-free ordinance in the beginning.
Were seeing more and more communities pass smoking bans
for their communities. Oldham County would eventually have to make a
decision on this issue, said Karem. The local government has chosen
to move forward in a responsible way.
In early November 2006, the chamber surveyed its membership on the issue.
The chamber wanted to determine how a ban would affect the business
operations of the 400 area companies that are chamber members.
The smoking ban affects everyone in Oldham County, said
Karem. It will definitely affect business in general.
Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed with the idea of a smoking ban,
and 26 percent disagreed, with the remainder having no comment. A number
of the chamber businesses already have smoking policies in place, said
The biggest impact would be on restaurants and entertainment venues,
she said. The members surveyed were also asked how a smoking ban would
affect their business. Twenty-four percent felt it would be in a positive
way, 18 percent in a negative way, and more than 40 percent said not
The smoking ordinance would restrict smoking in many public buildings,
offering exemptions for private clubs with no paid employees, retail
tobacco stores and designated smoking rooms in hotels, hospitals, hospices
and nursing homes. Businesses would be required to post a No Smoking
sign near the entrance, and be fined if caught violating the ordinance.
But many feel this is a decision that should be left up to individuals.
Howard Ferriell, owner of H.D. Ferriell Builder, looks at the issue
in a different way. Ferriell is adamant in saying, Im not
a smoker. I think its unhealthy.
While Ferriell is in favor of a ban in all publicly owned government
facilities, his concern lies in the method in which this smoking ban
will be administered. He feels businesses should have the right to decide
what they offer the public.
He is shocked that Oldham County officials think its OK
to regulate private business in this way. Such an ordinance
interferes with the business owners rights, said Ferriell. He
takes a staunch stand against the ordinance, even though it wont
directly affect his business because neither he nor any of his employees
The scary part for me is that political leaders let trends dictate
how they view and vote on an ordinance they pass, said Ferriell.
He feels this trend in smoking bans would probably take
care of itself over time. Most of the general public doesnt want
to be around smoke, he said.
Ferriell said county officials need to take a look at what restaurants
want. He was surprised and disappointed over Fiscal Courts
original decision to pass the ban, feeling business owners freedoms
have been encroached upon.
Back to February 2007