Editorials

Good boost for smoking ban

School boosters work hard for their money. Some even endanger their health and lives volunteering their time in smoke-filled bingo halls.

A lawyer for some Fayette County booster clubs is threatening to sue if the city brings bingo halls under the same smoke-free umbrella as every other public establishment in Lexington.

Attorney Jerry Wright contends that the proposed revisions amount to special legislation aimed exclusively at the gambling venues that generate revenue for school sports and other activities. The result, he says, would be selective enforcement and that would be unconstitutional.

The changes under consideration by the Urban County Council would close an unintended loophole in the four-year-old indoor smoking ban by tweaking the definition of private clubs.

Booster clubs raising money by leasing bingo halls have slipped through that loophole, even though the bingo games are very public. (The clubs wouldn't make money if the games weren't open to the public.)

But, contrary to Wright's contention that boosters are being singled out, the proposed changes in the smoking ordinance are much broader than bingo.

For the first time, all workplaces, not just those open to the public, and all public transportation would be required to be smoke-free ordinance. Also, Urban County Government buildings would become smoke-free. (This is possible because the legislature repealed a requirement that local governments had to provide a place for employees to smoke.)

One impetus for shoring up the smoke-free law is the impending departure of clean-air champion David Stevens from the council. Stevens, who sponsored Lexington's smoking ban, Kentucky's first, will retire from the council in January. He wants to leave the ordinance in good stead.

The airport, which is a local government building, is asking to be exempted from the smoking ban to retain its smoking rooms. Some of the world's busiest airports are smoke-free. Lexington's should be, too.

Blue Grass Airport can prove its hospitality by providing antsy smokers with nicotine-replacement products.

Second-hand smoke is a carcinogen that contains at least 250 toxic chemicals. There is no safe exposure level. Second-hand smoke kills an estimated 3,000 non-smokers who die of lung cancer and more than 46,000 non-smokers who die from heart disease each year.

Hard-working booster clubs shouldn't waste their money fighting a change that will help people live longer, healthier lives.

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