Thursday, July 11, 2019

Perry County becomes the 35th Kentucky community with a comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance; Hazard keeps partial ban

The Perry County Fiscal Court unanimously passed a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance on June 18, becoming the 35th community in Kentucky to do so.

The law, which took effect immediately, bans smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, in all places of employment and public buildings. It also prohibits smoking within 15 feet of any public door, window or ventilation system, as well as any public outdoor seating and recreational areas.

Perry County (Wikipedia map)
The county seat of Hazard will continue to operate its own smoke-free ordinance, which was implemented in 2016. The county ordinance "does not affect property within the City of Hazard," Katie Kelley of the Hazard Herald reports. The city's ban is considered only partial because it doesn't include all workplaces, says the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy.

The county ordinance will be enforced by the county Code Enforcement Board, with a possible fine  for violators of up to $50. Fines have also been set for business owners and employers who fail to comply with the ordinance. Business owners and employers are required to post "no smoking" signs.

At 28 percent, smokers are more prevalent in Perry County than the rest of the state, where that rate is 25%, but Emily Bennett with Hazard's WYMT-TV reports that most there are pleased with the ban.

Local diners at Frances' Diner, a restaurant that used to allow smoking, told Bennett that they are now able to eat without worrying about their health.

Matthew Combs, who works in Hazard, told her that he suffered from allergies and asthma and that being able to eat in a smoke-free environment is "wonderful."

One local health official pointed out the dangers of secondhand smoke, especially for employers who are exposed to it all day.

 "If it's a smoking venue, it is the equivalent to them having a pack a day habit themselves for a non-smoker having to work in a smoking environment where that is allowed," Scott Lockard, the public health director for the Kentucky River Regional Health Department, told Bennett.

Another told Bennett that such policies eventually create a "new norm."

Sherrie Stidham, a health educator, told Bennett, "We're wanting to set a new norm. We don't want children to get used to seeing everybody in these places and smoking and think it's an okay thing to do."

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