LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville's new proposed smoking ban bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor.
City officials involved in drafting the ban, scheduled to go before the Metro Council on Thursday, said the only differences are that there will be no exemption for Churchill Downs and a change in the way health department inspectors do their jobs in enforcing the ban.
"It will be pretty much a carbon copy of the original, minus the Churchill exemption," said councilman Jim King. "I think the ban was widely accepted. In just six months, everyone became accustomed to it. If we went in another direction, we'd have an uprising."
Louisville was forced to redo its smoking ban after Senior Circuit Judge Steven Ryan struck down the old one on Dec. 21 as unconstitutional. Ryan's ruling citing a decision in November by another judge, who ruled that the exemption for the racetrack was illegal.
The ordinance outlaws smoking in all public buildings, including bars, restaurants and bingo halls. The proposed new ordinance will allow health department inspectors to perform investigations only during business hours and in areas open to employees or the public.
Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson called a special meeting of the metro council to pass a new ban.
"The smoking ban has made Louisville a healthier, safer place for all people, especially our children," Abramson said. "I look forward to signing the ban into law."
Attorney Mike Hatzell, who represents the Louisville Metro Hospitality Coalition in the lawsuit against the smoking ban, said he will review any new ordinance that passes. "They've certainly cleaned it up to some degree," he said. "Whether it's enough, we'll have to sit down and analyze it."
Louisville's metro council passed the ban to keep smoking out of all public places except for Churchill Downs and any tobacco manufacturer that conducts research and development for tobacco products on site.
The council exempted facilities regulated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. The Metro Louisville Hospitality Coalition filed a lawsuit challenging Churchill Downs' exemption and asked that the ban be overturned as arbitrary and vague.
The smoking ban replaced a less-stringent ordinance that allowed smoking in bars and restaurants that receive less than 75 percent of their revenue from the sale of food.
Louisville is among several Kentucky cities to ban smoking in a state that has led the nation in the production of burley tobacco, an ingredient in cigarettes.
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)