City Commission passes Bowling Green smoking ban 3-2

Caitlin Carter

The clock’s officially ticking for Bowling Green smokers.

At Monday’s special session of the Bowling Green City Commission, an ordinance regulating indoor smoking in public places passed by a 3-2 vote in its second reading.

The ordinance, which takes effect in 90 days, has been in the works since 2007, when Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash placed it on the agenda.

Nash, along with Mayor Elaine Walker and commissioner Bill Waltrip voted yes on the ban. Commissioners Joe Denning and Bruce Wilkerson voted no.

At the meeting, community members had the opportunity to discuss the issue.

Waltrip, a supporter of the smoking-ban, said his vote has been the same since he assumed his position on Jan. 1.

“It becomes a right or wrong issue,” Waltrip said. “In my opinion it’s the right thing to do for workers and children.”

Denning said he doesn’t believe he or any other commissioner has the right to dictate rules to property owners.

“I’m not a doctor. I’m certainly not an attorney,” Denning said. “But I do believe, inside, not just because it’s on paper, that I do not have the right to tell an owner what he or she could do on his or her property as long as it’s not illegal.”

Walker, a proponent of the ordinance, said a lot of eyebrows were raised regarding the timing of Monday’s decision.

Walker said the the ordinance was originally going to be made in February of 2011, but the process was expedited due to her appointment as Kentucky’s secretary of state.

“The fact that the decision is being made one month earlier does not change the fact that in 2007, we had extensive discussion regarding this,” Walker said.

Monday’s meeting was called specially for the ordinance’s second reading, which was first read last Tuesday night at a regularly scheduled meeting.

The city smoking ban will not affect WKU’s campus, since smoking is already banned in buildings.

The University Senate recently passed a resolution to make campus entirely smoke-free, but President Gary Ransdell said input from Student Government Association and Staff Council must be taken into account before this takes effect.