By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor

It’s been a month and a half since the Corbin Community Coalition wrote the city commission, proposing a smoking ban for city restaurants. After hearing no response, the coalition decided Wednesday to pursue the matter further.

“If they say ‘no’ at least we know where we stand,” said coalition coordinator Chris Hart. “We elected them to do a job... They need to make a choice. We need to know where they stand on it.”

Hart suggested inviting members of the middle and high school UNITE Club to the next city council meeting. Members also suggested a possible petition.

“It’s a wonderful idea for the community,” said member Leah Norvell. “The benefits of it are really good.”

In a letter dated Feb. 23, 2007, Hart wrote to Mayor Willard McBurney, “The Corbin Community Coalition is asking that the city of Corbin, the board of Commissioners and mayor follow the lead of other cities in this important health issue and adopt an ordinance that will prohibit smoking in public buildings within the city.”

Commissioner Joe Shelton, a physician’s assistant, said the board hasn’t really discussed the issue, but that he would personally support a ban.

“From my standpoint as a medical person, I just could never be for anything that has to do with smoking,” Shelton said. “It effects so many people, and in my profession, it would be very difficult to be for anything that’s related to smoking.”

Commissioner Dennis Lynch said he would reserve his comment until after the issue was formally brought before the city.

“I have read that letter and I have discussed it with some of the people at city hall, and we were just waiting to see what they (the coalition) did,” Lynch said. “I would not be able to make a statement either way.”

Though he wouldn’t comment specifically on his position on a ban, Commissioner Phil Gregory said “It’s still legal to smoke.”

“We’ve not even talked about it,” Gregory said. “I’m not going to comment. I smoked for 55 years. I quit three years ago, and I can understand smokers and I can understand non-smokers.”

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