The ban was voted through two weeks ago by the urban county council in the state with the largest tobacco industry in the U.S. and will take effect in 90 days. Lexington also has the highest proportion of adult smokers in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization.
Irish bar owners are hopeful that some exceptions might still be introduced in an amended ban, according to Waterford native Roger O’Byrne, who is part owner of McCarthy’s Irish Bar in Lexington.
O’Byrne said the experience of bar owners in Lexington echoed that of New York City, but with some differences.
“No one ever thought that it would come in,” O’Byrne admitted. “It’s been in the pipeline for a while. But the people who voted this in were probably not the people who would ever go to pubs.”
Unlike the New York City and state bans, the onus is on the customer in Lexington: if caught smoking, violators will face a $100 fine for the first offense, a $250 fine for the second offense, a $500 fine for the third and each subsequent offense.
But bartenders, O’Byrne said, are expected to enforce the law and non-smoking customers are being encouraged to report smokers.
The ban has several exceptions. Private functions in rented rooms or halls may have smoking. And retail tobacco stores are exempted.
Kentucky law permits government buildings to provide a smoking room and this will continue.
“Probably well over 50 percent of our customers are smokers,” O’Byrne said. “There is very strong local opposition to the ban here. “We are a bar that does not serve food. We are hoping at least for a designated smoking room to be allowed.”
Ellen Hahn, a tobacco control researcher at the University of Kentucky, championed the ban in Lexington and said businesses were reacting “hysterically” to it.
“People are always going to be resistant to change initially,” Hahn told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Then there is perceived hysteria and then gloom and doom. It’s really hysteria created by the unknown.”
New York State’s smoking ban will take effect July 24. The citywide ban has been in effect since May and bar owners have continued to insist that their business is suffering as a result.
Some of New York’s bar and restaurant owners are refusing to accept that the ban is here to stay. A rally has been planned, with the title “Murder of an Industry,” on July 24. The rally will take place at 1 p.m. in City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan. Bar and restaurant owners hope to put the argument across that the smoking ban is killing their businesses.
The New York Nightlife association, the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association and Taverners United for Fairness in New York City are among six pressure groups sponsoring the rally.
A pre-rally planning meeting will take place at the Manhattan Club at Rosie O’Grady’s on West 52nd Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, on Tuesday, July 15, from 3-4:30 p.m. The year 2003 will be remembered in the U.S. and around the world for the introduction of so many smoking bans. Several European governments announced their intent to ban smoking in public places, including Ireland.
And Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer, Dr. Etta Campbell, said this week that “every doctor” in the North would welcome a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, given that smoking related illnesses cost the Northern Irish taxpayer more than