Ky. Supreme Court overturns Bullitt Co. smoking ban


by Chelsea Rabideau

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 11:23 PM

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The smoking ban is no more in Bullitt County. After three years of fighting through the court system, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the regulation the county health board put in place.

The smoking ban would have prohibited lighting up in workplaces, bars and restaurants. But, the Supreme Court said the authority to make smoking laws lies not with the health board, but with legislative bodies.

There are still a few businesses around Bullitt County that allow smoking, like El Tarasco in Shepherdsville.

 “It should be a, each business or restaurant, it should be their choice to have the smoking or non-smoking,” manager Juan Dominguez said.

Three years ago, the Bullitt County Health Board tried to pass the county-wide ban. It hasn’t gone over well with many smokers.

“I don’t think the health department should really try to tell everybody what to do cause next thing you know, they’ll try to tell you what you can do in your own home,” Corey Dunn said, a smoker and Bullitt County resident.

The Bullitt County Fiscal Court and eight cities in the county filed a lawsuit to stop the ban. The suit worked its way up through the courts to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which overturned the ban, saying the health board did not have the authority to enact a law like that.

The health board responded to the decision Thursday saying, “We are hopeful, in spite of this setback, that the legislative bodies of the Commonwealth will act appropriately and soon to protect the health of our citizens now that the county boards of health cannot address the matter.”

It’s a hope many others share.

“There’s people that’s got medical problems,” Eddie Hall said, a non-smoker, “There’s children that don’t need to be around that stuff. My wife, she doesn’t smoke around the grandkids, again, she smokes outside the home.”

Some people think it wouldn’t be a necessary law.

“There’s certain bars that don’t have smoking, and I’ve been in them and I don’t smoke. You know, I’ll go outside if I feel I need a cigarette,” Dunn said.

Dominguez said they have lost a few customers over their choice to keep a smoking section in the restaurant.

“Sometimes they prefer to leave, to walk out,” he explained.

But, for now, it is still the restaurant’s choice.

In the decision, the Supreme Court cites several negative statistics and impacts of smoking, saying promoting a smoke free society is a reasonable goal. However, enactment must be grounded in law.