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Councilwoman Woolridge to outline procedures for committee review for smoking ordinance

Wednesday September 6, 2006

Majority Caucus
Louisville Metro Council
For More Information Contact:
Tony Hyatt: 574-4137/ 526-3622
For Immediate release:

Louisville – On Wednesday, September 6th, the Metro Council’s Health and Human Services Committee will meet beginning at 3:00pm

Among the items the committee will review in the weeks ahead with be a revised smoking ban for Metro Louisville

At the meeting, Chairwoman Mary C. Woolridge (D) 3 will map out a time table for review of the ordinance sponsored by Councilman Ken Fleming (R) 7.

Chairwoman Woolridge has released this statement about the review:

“The pro and con sides for a total smoking ban are gearing up.

In the next few weeks, the public will hear many of the same arguments that have been heard before.

One side saying now is the time for total ban on smoking in Metro Louisville to protect the public’s health. The other saying local bars and restaurants will be seriously hurt economically if the smoking ban is stricter.

The decision for a total ban is still not an easy one to make.

The new proposed ordinance does have some exemptions. Should it? I don't know.

How much money did local businesses invest to comply with the law we have now? That's another good question.

Has the Health Department found all of the loopholes or could there still be some with a total ban?

Personally, I would like to find out.

As Chairwoman of the Metro Council's Health and Human Services committee, I plan to ask those questions. I am sure other committee members will too.

But no one should take this as any kind of delay.

When the current smoking ordinance went into effect in November 2005, only two other cities in Kentucky had one in place: Lexington and Georgetown. State law required designated areas of smoking in government buildings. That law has changed.

There have been several reports on air quality. One deals with second hand smoke from the U.S. Surgeon General and the other from the University of Kentucky about Louisville's air quality in buildings.

Much has changed in a year since the initial vote to put the current law in place.

            As the review of this proposal begins, there is no need to rehash the philosophical and political view points about this issue. Let's review new information and make sure that if we change the law this time we do not have to come back in six months or another year and say "Oops, we forgot something."

Democrats on the Council have no plans to drag this out, kill it or water it down. If the community is ready for a total ban, then we are listening and will move forward.

But let’s also understand this should not be a snap your fingers, what are you waiting for as some media and other groups have demanded. Like any proposed law, this one does need to be reviewed. It should not be done to score political points.

Many Democrats on the Council have led the charge for this change since 2003. There have also been bipartisan efforts to protect the public's health.

One year ago, the votes were not there for a total ban. This may look like an all or nothing decision. If that is case let's take a little time to make sure we get it right.”

The Health and Human Services Committee will meet in Council Chambers, third floor 601 W. Jefferson Street beginning at 3:00pm.

Sponsor:
Mary Woolridge (D) 3