City sidewalks adjacent to the University of Kentucky campus will not be covered by the university's upcoming smoking ban — at least not soon.
Anthany Beatty, assistant vice president for campus services, asked the Urban County Council at its work session last week to let UK enforce its tobacco-free policy "to the curb."
A resolution adopting a memorandum of understanding with UK was placed on a special-meeting docket on Tuesday.
But when the memorandum came before council, councilwoman K.C. Crosbie asked UK vice president Frank Butler how the legislation could be enforced.
Councilwoman Diane Lawless, whose district includes most of the neighborhoods around UK, worried that smokers who could not light up on campus would walk across the street to take a puff.
Butler said Lawless had legitimate concerns, but added: "We are not trying to dump our smoking problems on surrounding neighborhoods."
"It's not that we object to UK going smoke-free," Lawless said. But she said she did not want to turn residential sidewalks into ashtrays.
On a motion made by Lawless, council voted 8-6 to move the topic to the Intergovernmental Committee. That doesn't kill the resolution, but essentially puts it in a holding pattern.
Butler said after the meeting that he was disappointed. "But it's not going to change our plans," he said.
The university goes smoke-free Nov. 19, the day of the Great American Smokeout. "We will continue to work with the city" to try and reach an agreement, Butler said.
The university is pursuing a similar policy with the state to cover state-controlled roads around campus: Rose Street, Euclid Avenue and Cooper Drive. The school is now filling out an application with its request.
Smokers need not fear "tobacco police," but when anyone is seen smoking on university property, they will politely be told the campus is tobacco-free, Butler said. "Then we will tell them where they can get help with smoking cessation classes, information and medication."
The medical campus banned tobacco in November 2008. Butler said most times "when you ask somebody nicely not to smoke, we don't get repeat offenders."
If UK wanted to go after recalcitrant smokers, Butler said, "There are enforceable policies that cover students, faculty and staff stating that school policies must be followed."
But the university doesn't expect the smoke-free campus to be accepted over night, Butler said. "We expect it to take a year. It's a cultural shift," he said. "We're starting with the kinder, gentler approach of education."