Ruling could nullify smoking bans in three central Ky. counties

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Kentucky Supreme Court ruling over health department-issued smoking bans could make similar bans in three central Kentucky counties unenforceable.

Officials in Madison, Clark, and Woodford counties say they're reviewing Thursday's ruling to see whether it nullifies similar bans in their counties.

At question are smoking bans put in place by health departments versus elected councils. Like in Bullitt County which sparked the legal battle, health departments in those counties enacted smoking bans.

Citing numerous facts about the dangers of smoking, Thursday's ruling said "it is understandable that many health professionals and government officials have sought to curtail the prevalence of this noxious fume. However, when promotion becomes enactment, even the most virtuous causes must be ground in law."

Justices concluded the Bullitt County health board exceeded its authority.

Madison County Judge-Executive Kent Clark told WKYT the county attorney advised him the ruling likely nullifies Madison County's smoking ban. Officials in Woodford and Clark counties told WKYT they have similar concerns.

Kentucky and North Carolina are the nation's two largest tobacco-producing states. In 2012, tobacco accounted for 7.3 percent of the state's total agricultural income.

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 28.3 percent of Kentucky adults smoke.

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