Hopkinsville mayor pushes smoking ban

HOPKINSVILLE — A Western Kentucky mayor is pushing to ban smoking in public places.

Dan Kemp said Hopkinsville is the largest city in the state that hasn't passed such a ban, and he wants to change that. Kemp told the Kentucky New Era that he will present an ordinance to the city council next month that would ban indoor smoking at public places.

Kemp said the ordinance is modeled after one passed by the city of Bowling Green. He said if council members ratify a ban, it could be put into effect as early as July 1.

He said residents and business owners should call council members and voice their opinions, because it could sway the vote on the issue.

Kemp said he plans to present the ordinance on May 24 and hopes the council will vote on it on June 5.

He said there are exemptions — including for private clubs and tobacco stores — but bars are included.

Officials in Hopkinsville have mulled a smoking ban for years, but Kemp said he thinks the timing is right for a ban to pass because surveys and polls show support for the measure. Kemp said he has received mostly positive comments about the proposal from businesses.

Health Department Director Mark Pyle said a ban would reduce the prevalence of secondhand smoke.

"That's what we're talking about here: the right of non-smokers to breathe clean air," Pyle said. "From a health standpoint, it's really a no-brainer."

Kemp said under current law, non-smokers can choose to bypass businesses that allow smoking and smokers can bypass establishments that don't allow it, but he said there is more to it than just a matter of individual rights.

"I just think it's such an overriding health concern that it trumps the individual-rights argument," Kemp said.