Dickering threatens smoking ban

FORT THOMAS — A proposed smoking ban in three Northern Kentucky counties could go up in smoke as officials haggle over what type of establishments would be exempt from the measure.

Officials in Kenton, Boone and Campbell counties have been working together since June on the proposal. If the differences can't be ironed out soon, some leaders are suggesting the plan be tabled until a comprehensive measure can be put in place.

"I believe it's either time to pass something or put it on the shelf for a while because it just seems to be an item that is taking staff time and concentration away from other projects," said Kenton County Commissioner Dan Humpert.

One proposal would borrow from a smoking ban enacted in Georgia that would permit smoking at private clubs, drinking establishments and "by appointment only" places like law offices and conference and meeting rooms.

Kenton County Commissioner Sara Reeder-Voelker, who is against the ban, said the fiscal courts in the three counties should act quickly and move on.

"I think all the exemptions people can't agree on are a big waste of time," she said, adding local governments should be focusing on more pressing matters, such as the economy.

Kenton County Judge-Executive Ralph Drees said that he thinks the ban will eventually be passed, but that the Georgia ordinance is too "open" and must be refined.

Drees has no problem with the provision to allow smoking in private offices, but says he thinks conference and meeting rooms shouldn't be part of the exemption.

"That's when people will get upset; when they have to go to a meeting with smoking," he said.

Drees said he'll meet with members of the other two fiscal courts this month to discuss the ban.

"I think it will happen," he told The Kentucky Enquirer. "If we get two of three (fiscal courts), we should still pass it to shame the other one into it."