tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Smoking debate takes a back seat to elections

More than a year after the governments of Jessamine County began discussing a ban on smoking in public places, cigarettes are still lit in some restaurants and businesses — and the issue will likely not be discussed again until after November, when many of those who would impose such a ban are up for re-election.

After a joint government meeting on secondhand smoke in March 2009, a task force was created with representatives from the Jessamine County Fiscal Court, the Nicholasville City Commission and the Wilmore City Council to address the issue. That task force met with Susanna Moberly, grassroots coordinator for Smoke Free Jessamine Coalition, and had originally discussed having an ordinance by October 2009, Moberly said.

“It seemed to be that an ordinance adoption was to be in place,” she said. “The members that we met with had a lot of questions for us with regards to the ordinance itself, and the biggest concern they had at the time was who in our community would be the one writing tickets or actually regulating what goes on with that ordinance.”

After the concerns about enforcement and scope of the ban were raised, no action was taken, and the project has been stagnant since. Moberly said members of the task force told her they would have to wait to meet again until after the November 2010 general election.

Magistrate and task-force member Tim Vaughan said the fiscal court did not have adequate support for the ban and that re-election was probably a factor. Vaughan faces opposition in his November re-election bid, but he said he’d like to act on the tobacco issue now.

“We saw, on a county level, that there was not a majority of magistrates that were in favor of the smoking ban. There’s probably not even support to have it brought up before the election, to be honest,” he said. “That’s not necessarily my opinion; I think we should go ahead and move on it. I don’t think we should wait on an election to take action of some nature, but not one of us runs the ship, so if there’s not the support for it now, then all it would be is a practice in voting.”

The issue is not one of whether smoking is healthy, said Magistrate John Nickell, a former tobacco farmer who said he stood firmly against a smoking ban in the county, it has to do with businesses’ rights to set their own rules.

“If you own a business and allow smoking, I don’t have to go in that establishment if I don’t want to, and the same thing works the other way,” said Nickell, who lost his bid for re-election in the May primary. “I’m not a smoker; I used to raise it, worked for a company that made it, but that’s the way I feel about it. I know it’s not good for you, but we don’t have to go in there and inhale that smoke if we don’t want to.”

While the support for a smoking ban may not exist in the county governments, county citizens were in favor of such a ban just a few years ago.

In 2006, the University of Kentucky Tobacco Research Policy Program conducted a phone survey of Jessamine County residents and asked for their views on smoking issues. The results of that survey showed 59.6 percent of respondents thought Jessamine County should adopt a local law so public buildings — including restaurants, bars and businesses — have a smoke-free environment.

Several surrounding communities have bans on smoking in indoor public places, including all restaurants and workplaces.

Fayette County passed a smoking-ban ordinance in July 2003 that was implemented in April 2004. Madison and Woodford counties each have smoking-ban regulations that were adopted and implemented by their boards of health.

“As a coalition leader, I’m so upset that our community hasn’t progressed forward when all the communities around us have,” Moberly said.

Business impact

Some bars in surrounding counties have adapted to the regulations and ordinances by providing outdoor seating where smoking is allowed, and Moberly said she knew of restaurant owners in the area who had seen increased business following a government-issued smoking ban. But one Jessamine County business would be forced to close if it could not allow smoking.

Jacob Glancy opened Jake’s Cigar Bar and Lounge just two months ago in Brannon Crossing and serves cigars and drinks to its patrons. The former chef said he saw a need for such an establishment in the area because of Lexington’s smoking ban. Glancy said he knew a smoking ban had been discussed in Nicholasville but that he had understood it would first take effect only in restaurants. He built Jake’s without a kitchen so it would not be considered a restaurant.

“I chose not to have a kitchen for the sole fact that eventually, they would do a smoking ban on restaurants, and I would have to choose between smoking and cooking,” he said.

Glancy said he believes he has created an establishment that allows smoking but doesn’t force smoke on anyone who wouldn’t want it.

“We’re a 21-and-over environment. No minors, nothing of that sort, can even come in the door or remain on the premises. At that point, you should say that people have the ability to choose to go into an environment like that or not,” Glancy said. “I don’t think anybody in their right mind … could say that you shouldn’t allow smoking in your cigar bar that doesn’t serve food. We have a huge sign out front that says, ‘Cigar Bar.’ That’s all we are.”

Glancy also said that thanks to tens of thousands of dollars in filtration systems, Jake’s has cleaner air than many restaurants that don’t allow smoking.

The Jessamine County Health Department keeps track of which restaurants in the county allow smoking, and Smoke Free Jessamine posts that information on its website. Los Tres Amigos, a Mexican restaurant off South Main Street, is listed as a smoking establishment, but the business recently decided to reserve Friday nights and Sundays as smoke-free hours. Owner Jessica Angulo said Friday is the restaurant’s busiest night and the decision to go smoke-free those nights came after seeing the dining room filled with smoke — from cigarettes as well as fajitas.

“On Fridays, I have my music, and some of the customers stay and sit for three or four hours at a time, smoking one after another after another. It was smoke-filled,” Angulo said.

The restaurant doesn’t have plans to expand its non-smoking hours. Angulo said she has lost some business on Fridays since prohibiting smoking, although she also continues to receive complaints about cigarette smoke during other meals.

Angulo and Glancy both agreed with Nickell’s view that business owners, not the government, should decide what takes place in their establishments.

“In all reality, a smoking ban on any business is straight-up communism; it’s horrible; it’s insane, in my mind,” Glancy said. “It’s the government telling the businesses how to run their own business. If you don’t want to go into a restaurant that has smoke, don’t go to that restaurant.”

If Nicholasville passed a smoking ban that included Jake’s Cigar Bar and Lounge, it would be the death of the business, Glancy said.

“We would have to shut the doors,” he said. “I would literally lose my house; I would not be able to afford to live, and I would be unemployed if that happens … They would be putting a young married couple out on the street if they passed a smoking ban.”

The debate

While Glancy hopes businesses will be able to dictate what behavior they allow, others have different reasons for standing in opposition to a smoking ban. Nickell said a ban could likely have a negative impact on the tobacco business. Moberly suggested an ordinance would not hinder the local “heritage.”

“My opinion is that the policymakers in our community have a strong tobacco heritage, and they’re afraid that they’re going to either deny their heritage or put others in the community in a place of thinking they don’t support the heritage any longer,” Moberly said. “But my opinion is that we can support our heritage without allowing more people to die from it, because even though people in our community grow tobacco, they do not make the product and add all the chemicals into that are really killing the people.”

Vaughan agreed, saying both sides of the issue could be appeased.

“I support [a smoking ban]; I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “Details have to be worked out, but the signs seem to indicate that second-hand smoke is not safe, and we can still support the tobacco farmers and at the same time just say we just want to protect people’s health and do it in a reasonable way.”

Vaughan added that the issue of businesses’ rights comes into play, as well.

“It’s debatable, because there’s also the other view that doing such would place mandates and regulation on business and personal freedoms,” he said.

Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater, who is up for re-election in November but is currently unopposed, said Wilmore would like to fall in line with the decisions of the county and Nicholasville but that it would not wait to act if the other governments refrain.

“The county and Nicholasville are maybe going to hesitate and wait until after the general election in case the political scenery were to change and they were to overturn it or change it in any way,” Rainwater said. “There’s a great possibility that since we’re that close and we would like to be a unified effort, that we would wait, too. But we are going to move forward, even if the other governments don’t, at least after the election, if not before. We’re going to move forward; we’re not just waiting for the sake of waiting until a smoking ban comes in on its own. It’s going to be a hard issue in Jessamine County, but it’s time.”

By Jonathan Kleppinger, Jessaminejournal

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