Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Louisville's smoking ban extended to Churchill Downs

From the top article by Dan Klepal in this AM's C-J...

Louisville's smoking ban got a little broader yesterday when a judge struck down an exemption for the city's most famous landmark, Churchill Downs.

The law, which took effect earlier this year, bans smoking inside all public buildings, including bars, restaurants, bingo halls and bowling alleys. It provided only two exemptions -- for the Downs and tobacco manufacturers.

But Jefferson Circuit Judge Denise Clayton ruled that there was no "rational basis" for the track to have special protection....

This should have been a no-brainer from the beginning. If you're going to have a smoking ban-- and by the way, why is that a role for government, except in public buildings?!-- it should be uniform, instead of bowing to special interests. Then again, we are talking about government here, right?

Was the original exemption for Churchill Downs an example of hypocritical political pandering to an interest group? Or maybe this was just shady, subtle and brilliant politics-- the mayor and legislators granting the exemption, but figuring that the courts would overturn it-- allowing them their proverbial cake as well as the ability to eat it too. It wouldn't be a stretch to read the latter into the following responses to the court ruling...

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said that he would not contest Clayton's ruling.

"I will not appeal the decision on behalf of metro government," Abramson said. "And I'm hopeful the Metro Council will also let the judge's decision stand."

It appears that will be the case. Jim King, leader of the council's Democratic Caucus, said he doesn't think any of his members will push for an appeal. Likewise, a majority of Republican members of the council said yesterday they were pleased with the ruling.


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