Overall, the ban prohibits smoking in nearly every public building and work place in Clark County, including restaurants and bars. Both business owners and individuals can face fines for violating the ban.
Since it passed, supporters say the rule has improved public health by mitigating the dangers of secondhand smoke. Still, critics argue that it intrudes on business owners' rights and has caused revenues to plummet at certain eating and entertainment venues around town.
Robert Fisher, a Winchester business owner who proposed the resolution on behalf of a loosely formed opposition group, said critics don't look to repeal the ban, they merely want to make it more accommodating to some businesses.
"This is an opportunity to see government at its best," he said. "I would be greatly disappointed if (health board members) weren't receptive to it."
Another supporter of the resolution, Charles Willoughby, criticized the process used when passing the regulation. He said having a non-elected board implement such a regulation sets a bad precedent, and he contended that board members should have engaged the public more from the outset.
"I think when the process is all said and done, there will still be a smoking regulation," said Willoughby. "It will just be one everybody can agree to and not have crammed down their throat by people who think they know what's best for every single business in town."
Under state law, Fiscal Court has no authority to repeal an ordinance by the health board. Wednesday's resolution only serves as a formal statement of opinion. But the resolution also has its detractors.
Magistrates Pam Blackburn, Steve Palmer and Vanessa Oaks Rogers all voted against the move.
Blackburn, who serves on the health board and originally voted against the ban, said the smoking issue has been discussed for years, and business owners should have stepped forward before now.
"I feel like it is now in place, and it needs to stay in place," she said.
Likewise, Scott Lockard, director of public health, said only a handful of businesses out of hundreds in Clark County are opposed to the measure. Many businesses have seen an increase in revenue under the regulation and have privately expressed appreciation, he said.
Lockard also pointed out that the health board provided five opportunities for public input before the ban was passed.
"This has not been something that occurred overnight," he said. "There has been ample opportunity for public comment."
Lockard compared the ban to regulations that govern food quality and drinking water at restaurants, adding that "business owners don't have a choice when it comes to their decisions that impact the public health."
He wouldn't speculate how the health board might respond to the resolution, but he said the issue will be discussed at the board's upcoming meeting in May.
"The board of health is always receptive to public input and comment," he said.
In the meantime, court members unanimously voted to have County Attorney Brian Thomas prepare an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in all county-owned buildings.
Magistrates reasoned the public is required to enter government buildings while entering restaurants and bars is a matter of choice.
Contact Mike Wynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.