Owensboro City Commission meeting to discuss indoor smoking ban postponed indefinitely

Owensboro City Commission meeting to discuss indoor smoking ban postponed indefinitely
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 5:22 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - The indoor smoking ban in Owensboro that is up for discussion at the city commission meeting for Tuesday has been indefinitely postponed.

Indoor smoking has been prohibited in Owensboro since 2014.

[Previous Story: Owensboro leaders considering amending smoking ordinance]

City officials say this amendment just wasn’t very popular, and Tuesday’s meeting had a strong showing from people opposed to it.

A large group of healthcare workers and even the American Cancer Society made a point to voice their opposition.

Churchill Downs, which now owns Ellis Entertainment, wanted to allow smoking in their soon-to-be created gaming complex at Town Square Mall in Owensboro.

Mayor Tom Watson says that they’re excited about the complex and the massive economic boost it could provide.

“They felt that they needed people to be able to smoke to be in that facility,” says Watson.

However, as the city commission began considering an amendment to their indoor smoking ban, like Doug Hogan from the American Cancer Society began speaking out against it. He even pointed out studies by other casinos that show smoking isn’t necessarily popular.

“There’s a lot of very good data out there that shows that there’s been a paradigm shift,” says Hogan. “You don’t have to have smoking to be profitable in fact it’s becoming just the opposite.”

As the amendment had its second hearing, James Tidwell was the representative for many Owensboro Health employees who came to denounce the change.

“We felt strongly that we need to keep making strides forward and not back,” said Tidwell.

After a few passionate speeches, Mayor Tom Watson motioned to postpone the amendment vote indefinitely.

“There was just no excitement amongst the people for one thing,” says Watson.

The amendment effectively died after a push made on the grounds of public health.

Mayor Watson says Churchill Downs could lobby at the county level to have some rules changed, but for the time being there are no exceptions to the current smoking ordinance.