Somerset passes smoking ban 

Officials in Somerset have approved a smoking ban in the south-central Kentucky city.

Although there had been debate focusing on health issues and how much authority local governments should have, the City Council voted 11-1 on Monday to pass the ordinance that would ban smoking in enclosed public areas within the city.

Councilor Jim Rutherford, who was the lone vote against it, said his main concerns were with "government encroachment," the Commonwealth Journal reported (http://bit.ly/xALYNb ).

Others said it was a public health and safety issue and it was time for officials to take a stand.

The vote came after several people spoke for and against the proposal.

"I am really shocked at the fact that the City of Somerset is considering taking away the rights of businesses to make those decisions on whether we want our place of business to be smoking or non-smoking," business owner Teresa Singleton said. "For you to take that on your own, I think that's a major step in the wrong direction."

Podiatrist Pamela Jensen-Stanley said she thought a smoking ban was "necessary" for the city. She said many of the patients she works with suffer from smoking-related ailments.

"The nursing homes, and rest homes, I actually am personally offended ... going into these facilities wafting through smoke to find my patients, who all are very, very sick and the last thing they need to be doing is breathing second-hand smoke," Jensen-Stanley said.

"I think it's time that Somerset moves up and gets with the program."

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Information from: Commonwealth Journal, http://www.somerset-kentucky.com

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