Owensboro leaders considering amending smoking ordinance

Owensboro leaders considering amending smoking ordinance
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:33 PM CST
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Indoor smoking has been prohibited in Owensboro since 2014. That may be changing soon.

The city is considering an amendment — all to meet the needs of a new casino.

[Previous story: Ellis Entertainment has plans to open racing machine venue in Towne Square Mall]

Ellis Entertainment, now owned by Churchill Downs, is in the process of opening the casino at Towne Square Mall.

Churchill officials say they believe that if their business is going to succeed, their patrons need to be able to smoke inside.

On Tuesday, the Owensboro City Commissioners held the first reading of ordinance 09-2023. If approved, the ordinance would modify the city’s indoor smoking ban.

“During their development of the project, Churchill officials contacted the city and expressed concern about a potential negative impact of the city’s smoking ban would have on their project,” City Manager Nate Pagan said.

The new ordinance proposes an amendment to the 2014 smoking ordinance.

The proposed ordinance allows indoor smoking for businesses that are at least 50,000 square feet and have a capital investment of at least $30 million.

Businesses would only be allowed to offer smoking in 15% of their space. They would also need a full wall, vestibule or double doors between smoking and non-smoking areas. They would need a separate air purification system, and no one under 18 would be allowed in the building.

Pagan says as of now, the casino is the only business that meets all the requirements.

He says the city was willing to negotiate with Churchill Downs because of the economic impact.

“We’re trying to balance health with ensuring the community continues to grow and has job opportunities and that the project will have a certain amount of economic impact that will justify any kind of impact on public health,” Pagan said.

The City Commissioners will have a second reading of the ordinance and vote on it at their next meeting on March 21.