In a move that could have significant impact for businesses in Carter County, the House Heath and Welfare Committee approved a measure last Thursday that would ban smoking in all public and indoor workplaces.
The bill, HB 190, cleared the committee with 11 yes votes and 4 members passing on the measure, which usually reserves their right to vote against the bill should it eventually be considered by the entire House.
Rep. Jill York, who serves Carter and Lewis counties, took no official position on the issue when asked about the bill, but did express empathy and understanding for both sides of the debate.
“I completely understand the rational behind this bill and have received lots of phone calls from constituents who would like to see this bill enacted and passed,” said York.
“However, I also have reservations about the erosion of a person's right to choose what to do within his or her own property.”
“In the end, the debate comes down to public health concerns versus the rights of individuals and property owners. It's going to be an interesting vote should it make it to the House floor,” she added.
In cities such as Ashland, Morehead and Lexington, which have imposed similar city ordinances against smoking in public places, business owners can be face fines for violating the ban.
Numerous Carter County businesses, specifically restaurants, currently allow their patrons to smoke within their establishments.
All state and local government buildings, however, do not allow smoking indoors.
There is currently no timetable regarding when, or if, the bill will be considered for adoption by the entire House of Representatives.
Joe Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 286-4201.