At issue | Nov. 30 Herald-Leader editorial, "Go smoke-free, Northern Ky.; Health benefits are worth it"
I was surprised to see the Herald-Leader, whose delivery area and general readership largely does not reach the Northern Kentucky area, felt it necessary to weigh in on a local smoking ban proposal.
Perhaps it should not have been a shock, since the majority of those who speak in favor of the proposed Northern Kentucky smoking ban aren't even from up here. They generally hail from Ohio, Louisville and Lexington.
As a lifelong resident of the area, I'd like to point out that we're different. We still cherish property rights. We revere the free market. We reject unnecessary government intrusion. We value liberty and freedom — even to voluntarily harming ourselves through smoking, eating or consuming other legal substances.
Or, to put it simply: We outright reject the progressive agenda.
Certainly, we could ignore the mountain of statistics that don't fit the agenda. Economist Richard Thalheimer showed the growth in alcohol sales in Lexington, in the wake of the smoking ban. A study by University of Wisconsin's Scott Adams and University of South Carolina's Chad Cotti showed the increase in DUI fatalities in areas that passed a local smoking ban, including Lexington.
We could omit that Northern Kentucky is already mostly smoke-free. Restaurants are already over 70 percent smoke-free by choice, up from 66 percent only 2 years ago, and none just 16 years ago. Smoke-free bars are the latest trend, with at least 10 smoke-free bars coming about in just the past year; and almost every non-hospitality business has gone smoke-free by choice.
We could overlook the significant documented cost of lackluster enforcement for our neighbors to the north, who have lost at least $2 million in just three years, not including the uncalculated additional burden on the court system, while "smoke-easies" are still quite prolific over there.
We could disregard, that on any given night, the percentage of vehicles from Ohio parked in Covington's Mainstrasse Village District varies between 20 percent and 50 percent, bringing outside dollars into Northern Kentucky from places that are up to 30 miles into Ohio.
We could choose to ignore the seemingly daily reminders of the continuing slippery slope in the wake of smoking bans elsewhere in the country: trans-fat bans, salt bans, soda taxes and Happy Meal bans. And of course, we could forget to mention the ridiculous outdoor bans pushed by the head smoking nanny in Lexington.
We could glance over the minor detail that those of us who stand against the ban do so on principle, and haven't received a single dime of outside funding; whereas, those in favor of a ban have received grants from companies that sell smoking cessation treatments and from Obama administration stimulus funds and other taxpayer-funded sources.
We could remain ignorant of the legal process, the real effect of the very narrow ruling in the Supreme Court case cited by the Herald-Leader, and how there are many more legal facets to explore.
We could forget that the incoming fiscal court in Campbell County will, if the smoking ban is passed Dec. 15, overturn it in January anyway, creating a temporarily chaotic business environment which will contribute to uncertainty and potentially cause higher unemployment.
Or we could just blatantly deny the most simple of facts: No one is forced to enter a smoking establishment in Northern Kentucky.
Instead, I'd like to invite Herald-Leader readers to come up to Northern Kentucky and patronize a restaurant with a cuisine, level of service and environment of their liking. Judge the choices in Northern Kentucky for yourself. Up here, consumers still have a choice.
Ken Moellman, of Foster, is the spokesman for Northern Kentucky Choice, a coalition that opposes the smoking ban