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By MARTY FINLEY
RADCLIFF — The push for a smoke-free Radcliff continues this week for a group of individuals dedicated to the cause.
The Hardin County Tobacco Free Coalition is hosting a forum at Colvin Community Center Tuesday at 7 p.m., outlining the health perils related to smoking, as well as secondhand smoke.
Al McDonald, a spokesman for the forum and organizer of Smoke-free Radcliff, said the event is slated to feature four doctors and two nurses, who will discuss the dangers of smoking and answer questions from the public.
It’s just one of two forums scheduled at the center, with a second forum to follow in late August, focused on the different aspects of rights wrapped up in the topic.
The forum is open to the public and smoking opponents and advocates alike are encouraged to attend and discuss the issue, McDonald said.
“We’re just trying to get more people aware and involved,” he said.
For McDonald and his wife, Marilyn, clearing the smoke from Radcliff restaurants has been something of a quest.
Smoke-free Radcliff approached Radcliff City Council in 2007, asking its members to remove smoking from local restaurants. McDonald said the group originally pursued the matter as a non-smokers’ rights issue, but he said their primary focus now is to stress the health risks while supporting it with the rights argument.
The proposal was met with opposition by the council, but McDonald said a new election and a new council member encouraged the group to try again. It kicked off its latest effort by addressing the council directly during a recent meeting.
Smoke-free Radcliff is lobbying for another vote in the fall, he said.
“We’re gonna hope for the best,” he said.
But for now, the group is just trying to build awareness and gather its strength, McDonald said.
His doggedness to see legislation enacted is inspired by several factors, including the children he teaches as a substitute teacher. McDonald, who has taught health classes in the past, said several students have approached him looking for advice on how to convince their parents to stop smoking.
The staggering number of lung cancer patients is another factor, he said.
“You don’t have to be a genius to know its bad for you,” he said.
Beyond the health issue, the group has expressed a desire to return to Radcliff restaurants. Most who spoke at the meeting said they drive to Elizabethtown or elsewhere to dine out.
McDonald said he wants to see Radcliff follow the lead of cities like Elizabethtown and Lexington in establishing smoke-free facilities.
“It’s out there, and we want to get the problem fixed,” McDonald said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.