Thursday, October 2, 2003

Poll finds majority would allow smoking in bars

Ky. residents asked about support for stricter laws

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A majority of Jefferson County residents are against a ban on smoking in public businesses if it applies to bars and restaurants, according to poll results published Wednesday.

Fifty-four percent of Jefferson County residents opposed a ban, while 37 percent favored the idea, according to the Bluegrass Poll, conducted by the Courier-Journal Sept. 19 to 26.

Support for a ban rose to 63 percent if bars and restaurants were excluded from smoking prohibitions.

"I feel that wherever you go to eat or drink, you should be able to relax," said 20-year-old Mike Turner of Valley Station, who participated in the poll and agreed to an interview. "You shouldn't have to go outside in the weather and smoke a cigarette."

The poll included interviews with 508 adults in Jefferson County and 801 across Kentucky. The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points in the Jefferson County poll and 3.5 points in the statewide survey.

Only 36 percent of Jefferson County respondents believe that local governments should have the authority to decide whether businesses are smoke-free.

Statewide, the Bluegrass Poll found that 41 percent of Kentuckians believe that local or county governments should be allowed to implement a smoking ban, while 32 percent think that the decision should be left to the state legislature. Another 21 percent volunteered their opinion that individual businesses should decide whether they are smoke-free.

Mike Kuntz, chairman of the anti-tobacco group Smoke Free Louisville, said he still believes that public consensus favors a smoking ban on public businesses in metro Louisville, but he said the results show his group has much work to do.

"The poll," Kuntz said, "certainly doesn't indicate the public will."

But to Metro Council member Doug Hawkins, who opposes a ban, the poll shows that people had identified with the message that he and other ban opponents have championed.

"People understand that the issue is about rights and not about health," Hawkins said. "I'm real encouraged by this."

For the past four months, Smoke Free Louisville, which is made up of the heart, lung and cancer associations and is supported by the Louisville Metro Health Department, has lobbied for an ordinance to ban smoking in all public businesses within Jefferson County.

Lexington passed a similar ban in July, and Louisville supporters want a vote by the end of the year.

Hawkins, in an effort to kill the issue before ban supporters can muster sufficient support, is pushing for a quick vote on a strict ordinance he introduced and which he believes will be defeated. If that happens, the council couldn't consider another ban before January 2005.

State Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, who has proposed legislation that would give the General Assembly sole authority to enact smoking bans, said Tuesday he also believes businesses should ultimately decide whether to ban smoking.

"Government has no right making that decision," he said. "People will vote with their feet. They'll go where they feel comfortable."

Vickie Blakeley Barea, a poll respondent, said she wants businesses in Jefferson County to go smoke-free so she can visit restaurants and bars and nightclubs that, until now, she has been prevented from entering because of severe asthma. She also thinks local governments should be allowed to pass ordinances banning smoking.

Abuse suit now a class action
Zimpher gets busy on Day 1
Student sampling on new boss sketchy
Crime on rise in suburbs
Young voters missing at polls

Character sign: helping a friend
Project to cut off businesses
19 from Greater Cincinnati are Achievement semifinalists
Cancer team seeks funding
Reeve tells of hope for cures
Cranley seeks I-71 exit near hospitals
Monitor says police reform is slow
MSD to pay to fix sewer backups
Regional Report

Pulfer: A new history of women begins on the west side
Howard: Good Things Happening

Jury decides on death penalty for man who killed his wife
Hamilton readies for assault of this winter
Deters advises Butler Co.
Miami U. to keep all benefits for striking workers
Visit Scotland with a trip to Middletown
Mason's pancake day will be Nov. 8
Condos argued in Price Hill
Student killed; school shocked

Stanley Kreimer active in politics
Henry Stark, 104, was in union for 87 years
Kentucky obituaries

Irate farmer wants crop circle culprits to pay
Two firefighters killed in New Knoxville
No charges to be filed in landlord voyeurism case
Lawmaker proposes overhaul of state retirement fund boards
There's plenty of Ohio in D.C.
Ohio Moments

Universities, public schools start mutual campaign for money
Ky. state senator says: 'I'm gay'
Poll finds majority would allow smoking in bars
Survey: Gamblers ramble in region
Talks to regulate tobacco industry break down along partisan lines
Holmes teacher's death serves as warning for all
Museum Center shows Lewis and Clark letters
West Nile death confirmed
Truck driver dies after going off I-71