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News Summary

Judge strikes down Bullitt smoking ban

Publication Date: 2011-09-15
  • Publication:The Courier-Journal

A Bullitt Circuit judge struck down the county's smoking ban Thursday, just four days before it was set to take effect.

Judge Rodney Burress declared the ban void and unlawful, ruling that the Bullitt County Board of Health overstepped its authority when it passed the ban March 23.

"This court does not believe that type of 'Big Brother' conduct was anticipated by the Kentucky state legislature in its grant of power and authority to boards of health," Burress wrote.

The ban required bars, restaurants and all places open to the public --including some outdoor areas --to go smoke-free. It would have taken effect Monday.

Burress' ruling came after Bullitt Fiscal Court and the county’s eight cities sued the health board on March 18 to stop the countywide ban.

Swannie Jett, the county's health director, said health officials are "very disappointed" with Burress’ decision and the health board will meet within the next couple weeks to decide whether to appeal it.

Jett said Burress "took a position like the board of health was trying to regulate an individual’s personal choices, but the ban was actually acting on the fact that it’s affecting the health of other people."

Burress wrote that he believes Bullitt County residents "are entitled to be governed by their elected representatives and should not be subjected to additional laws enacted by an administrative agency without an express grant of authority."

But attorneys for the health board argued that at least three other smoking bans in Kentucky --ones in Woodford, Madison and Clark counties --were enacted by county health boards.

Jett said the lawsuit and decision show there is no other government entity in the county that is willing to "step forward to protect the health of citizens."

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