Bullitt Co. Health Dept. encouraging businesses to go smoke-free - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bullitt Co. Health Dept. encouraging businesses to go smoke-free

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SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Bullitt County Health Department lights up another smoking ban debate, as leaders face what may be their last chance to force change.

"There's no need for reservation about smoke-free policies because going smoke-free won't hurt your bottom line," according to a radio spot that hit Kentucky airwaves in the middle of the month.

The Bullitt County Health Department backed the ad, encouraging businesses to go smoke-free.

"To protect the public's health. That's it. That's the whole thing," said Bullitt Co. health educator Cynthia Brown.

Melinda Lynch says she's one smoker who's burned by the fight.

"It's the government telling me what I can and can't do, and if I want to smoke what's it anybody else's business," said Melinda Lynch.

The bartender from the Old Depot Bar and Grille in Shepherdsville says she's seen how smoking bans do affect business.

Some of her customers drive in from Louisville to avoid Jefferson County's ordinance.

"That's why they're regulars because they don't have to go outside and smoke," Lynch said.

The Bullitt County Health Department passed a smoking ban in 2011, but it was never implemented as cities within the county sued to block it.

The ad campaign comes just weeks before the case goes before the Kentucky Supreme Court. It includes advertisements in newspapers and in movie theaters.

"Many are actually reporting an array of benefits like a decrease in employee sick time, greater customer satisfaction, faster seating without two sections having to manage two sections and lower cleaning costs," the ad says.

In the middle of all of this, Bullitt County Fiscal Court passed its own smoking ban but it only stops people from smoking inside county buildings.

Leaders say the ordinance was written to supersede the health department's regulation.

"There is language in there that is questionable and as I said before we don't know what that impact is on the Board of Health regulation," Brown said.

With the possibility of the ban going up in smoke, simply encouraging companies to go smoke- free may be the last option.

The advertisements are being funded with two grants through the state Department of Public Health.

Part of the $20,000 comes from Kentucky's portion of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. That means tobacco companies are paying to promote this smoking ban.

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