City smoking ban passes first reading by commissioners’ 3-2 vote

The Bowling Green community turned out at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting to voice both support and disapproval for the city-wide smoking ban that has been up for discussion since 2007. The ordinance passed in its first reading, 3-2, and a second reading will be on Monday.

Caitlin Carter

Soon, smokers in the Bowling Green community may not be able smoke in their favorite restaurants or bars.

An ordinance regulating smoking in public and work places passed in its first reading, 3-2, at Tuesday’s Bowling Green City Commission meeting.

First placed on the agenda by Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash in 2007, the ordinance has been publicly supported by Commissioner Bill Waltrip and Mayor Elaine Walker.

Nash said he created the ordinance with people in mind — even though they may not agree with it.

“Although I hate to see people harm themselves, they’re welcome to do so,” Nash said. “I understand the freedom of choice.”

Members of the Bowling Green community were given the floor to discuss the topic from both sides at the meeting.

While many who took the floor were opposed to the ordinance, Walker said that a recent poll shows that around 70 percent of people who live in Bowling Green want a smoking ban and would like to see the local government enact it.

“Just like this, government enacts regulations to control asbestos and the way that restaurants treat their food,” Walker said.  “They’re enacted to protect the health of our citizens.”

Commissioner Joe Denning said he doesn’t support the bill because it takes basic freedoms away from business owners.

“I  feel that the property owner’s rights override any other rights,” Denning said. “My decision is based on what I feel inside, which may be interpreted as being wrong by some and being right by some.”

A second reading of the ordinance will be heard at a special session called next Monday. Nash said this will expedite the process by about seven days.

Denning asked that Monday also be known as “Elaine Walker Day” in Bowling Green, as Walker will be sworn in as Kentucky’s secretary of state on Jan. 29.