The Corbin City Commission is moving forward on the smoking ban ordinance, but it is not unanimous as Commissioner Phil Gregory cast the lone "no" vote on the motion to approve the first reading.
At a special called meeting, Monday morning, the ordinance commissioners requested City Attorney Bob Hammons to draw up was read before the commissioners voted 4-1, to approve it. The commissioners are scheduled to meet again at 8:30 a.m. at Corbin City Hall for the second reading and final vote on the ordinance.
Under the terms of the ordinance, smoking will not be permitted in all enclosed public areas and enclosed public buildings and smokers must remain at least 25 feet from the entrances to such places when smoking.
Among the places specifically listed are restaurants, except for outdoor seating, motels and hotels, which may not offer more than 20 percent of rooms as "smoking" and bingo facilities.
Gregory asked to discuss the ordinance before putting it to a vote, specifically whether there could be some type of exemption for bingo establishments and the off-track betting facility.
Commissioner Joe "Butch" White responded that if the ordinance includes any exemptions, the commission is opening the city to a lawsuit.
Mayor Willard McBurney added that when Lexington and Louisville enacted their smoking bans, they exempted Keenland and Churchill Downs race tracks, respectively. As a result, both cities have been forced to fight lawsuits filed by businesses that did not receive similar exemptions.
"What is this going to do to my business?" said John Mullins, who owns Corbin Bingo Parlor on Falls Hwy.
Mullins told the commissioners that he has spent $80,000 to completely separate the smoking and non-smoking areas of his business and also has separate heating and air conditioning systems to ensure the smoke is not circulated into the non-smoking section.
In addition, an air filter system is in place in the smoking section.
"Second hand smoke is not an issue," Mullins said.
However, Cathy Lay with the Whitley County Health Department, told the commissioners there is no ventilation system that will completely scurb the air clean of the chemicals and particles produced by tobacco smoke.
Each gaming session at Corbin Bingo Parlor benefits a different organization including: Corbin Band Boosters, Whitley County Baseball Boosters, Tri-County Elks, Corbin United Effort and the Whitley County Touchdown Club.
However, Commissioner Joe Shelton who proposed the commission consider the ordinance, said he is against any such exemptions.
Shelton said previously that he brought up the idea of the ordinance after hearing from a number of local restaurant owners who are in favor of the ordinance.
Under the terms of the ordinance, Corbin Police and Corbin Building Inspector Frank Burke will be responsible for enforcing it. A violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $150.
Corbin Police Chief David Campbell said his officers are prepared to do what they have to enforce the ordinance just as they any other law.