Proposed smoking ban causes controversy


Reporter- Briana Conner
Photographer- Justin Jones

MAYFIELD, Ky.— Mayfield city council members are deciding whether to end smoking in public places. If they do, they'll be the smallest, and only the second city in our western Kentucky area ban it. The first reading of the proposed ordinance passed six to four. City council members made their final votes Monday night. Some say it's a matter of public health, while others call it socialism.

"Let the business and the patrons decide," said protester Clayton Norton. He sat outside Mayfield's City Hall all afternoon making sure everyone who passes by can see his stance on smoking. He said, "I don't smoke. I don't like second hand smoke, but what I like less is that the government can come into a business and enforce a socialist law."

Norton stands just on the other side of a wall from one of the ordinance's biggest backers. "My hope is certainly that it passes," said Mayfield Mayor Teresa Cantrell. According to her, it's about time Mayfield joined the ranks of other smoke-free cities like Paducah, Louisville, and Lexington. "As a small community, why can't we be progressive and make some decisions that will affect our economically on the positive side?" she said.

The owner of Majestic Pizza and Steak House agrees, and said he won't be sad to see his smoking section go. "It's not ventilated by any means, so the smoking side does affect people sitting close by," said P.J. Georgiou. That's a major concern according to The American Lung Association. Advocacy Director Ellen Kershaw said, "I think people are becoming more aware of the health risks of smoking and of second hand smoke, which endangers people's health just as badly."

Cleaning out the air is a big move for a small city like Mayfield. "We're doing some neat things here in little old Mayfield. It's something I hope others will hitch their wagon to," said Mayor Cantrell, though Norton said he won't be going along for the ride. "I hope it doesn't pass, because if it does, me and my money are going to Benton or Murray," he said.

Mayor Cantrell said there is a unique part of this ordinance that would allow restaurants to build a smoking room, as long as it meets some specific regulations. The mayor of Murray also has a copy of Mayfield's proposed ordinance for review. The American Lung Association expects Kentucky lawmakers to reintroduce a state-wide smoking ban in the upcoming legislative session.