smoking ban

All eyes are on Kentucky’s state senators to see if they’ll move on the House’s proposed statewide smoking ban.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, has said he doesn’t see support for the bill in the upper chamber.

“If there is, and individuals want to vote on it and can get committee votes and want to get it to the floor it will move in the normal and ordinary course,” Stivers said.

Supporters had initially hoped the bill would be assigned to the Health and Welfare committee, chaired by bill sponsor Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. However the legislation was assigned to the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, signaling there might be a tough road ahead for the smoking ban.

Two Louisville lawmakers will again attempt to get a statewide smoking ban passed.

Representative Susan Westrom and Senator-elect Julie Racque-Adams have tried--and failed—to get such a ban through the past four legislative sessions.

Westrom, a House Democrat, blamed members of her own party’s leadership after a smoking ban failed to receive a floor vote in the chamber during the 2014 General Assembly.

The Owensboro City Commission unanimously approved an amended smoking ban ordinance at their meeting Wednesday night, a ban that eliminates smoking in almost all public places in the city.

The amended version of the ordinance allows smoking to continue in bars already in operation. New businesses will have to be smoke-free.

A proposed smoking ban that threatened to split the Owensboro city commission was amended Tuesday evening to exclude bars and other establishments that don't serve patrons under the age of 18.

The exemption would apply only to bars already in operation.  New bars that open after the ordinance takes effect would have to be smoke-free.

The amended measure still prohibits smoking in nearly all public places, including parks, private outdoor dining areas, and all city-owned  properties. 

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne told WKU Public Radio the city’s success demands a smoke-free policy.

"We now have thousands of people converging on our riverfront," commented Payne.  "We have a significant amount of outdoor dining that we've never had before and smoking has really become an issue."

The amended ordinance will come up for a vote September 2, and if approved, would go into effect October first. 

Owensboro’s smoking ban is more comprehensive than a similar measure approved in 2006 by the Daviess County government.

Anti-Smoking Campaign Gears Up for 2015 Push

Jul 18, 2014

Anti-smoking advocates are gearing up for another push to pass a statewide smoking ban with a statewide tour leading up to August’s Fancy Farm political picnic.

The Smoke-Free Coalition announced that it will make several stops across Kentucky to rally supporters and engage legislators to help pass a statewide smoking ban during the 2015 General Assembly.

A previous effort sponsored by Lexington Democrat Rep. Susan Westrom died in the House amid speculation that tobacco lobbying and election year concerns contributed to its demise.

Kentucky is one of 26 states that lacks a statewide smoking ban, which polls show has a plurality of support in the state.

The tour begins July 28 in Ashland and features stops in Campbellsville and Bowling Green July 31 and Owensboro Aug. 1.

Smoking Ban Among Priorities of Lobbyists in 2014

Jun 4, 2014
Kentucky LRC

A public smoking ban that did not pass was among the top priorities  of Kentucky's highest paid lobbyists this year.

A Virginia-based tobacco company spent the most money lobbying the 2014 state legislature, followed by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Hospital Association.

A spokesman for Altria, which owns brands such as Marlboro, Skoal and Black & Mild, said the company did not lobby against the smoking ban. He said it lobbied against a series of proposed cigarette excise taxes that did not pass.

The Chamber and the Hospital Association both lobbied for the smoking ban.

Overall lobbyist spending declined slightly to $8.7 million from the record $8.8 million in 2012. Most of that money was for lobbyist salaries, according to the Kentucky legislative ethics commission.

More Doubt Cast on Prospects for Statewide Smoking Ban

Mar 12, 2014
Kentucky LRC

The sponsors of a pair of bills that would ban smoking in public places and some private businesses in Kentucky say their proposed legislation has been stalled in the General Assembly.

Louisville Republican Julie Denton filed one of the bills in the Senate. And she's been frustrated by what she sees as the inability of both parties to support the issue.

“There are so many compelling things that I don’t understand why we can’t get this to move forward in either chamber," said Rep. Denton. "So obviously it’s not a partisan issue, it’s both sides. It’s all sides. I’m frustrated.”

Last week, Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom declared her smoking-ban bill “dead” after House leadership refused to bring the measure to the floor.

The sponsor of a bill that would ban smoking in public places and some private businesses in Kentucky says House Democratic leadership has killed the measure.

Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington, says a combination of pressure from lobbying groups and political concerns of colleagues with tobacco farms in their districts were behind the bill's failure.

“Some of our leadership polled here on the floor, they weren’t convinced that we had the votes," Westrom said. "And, quite frankly, I just don’t think they wanted to risk it in case it was an uncomfortable vote for somebody.”

Westrom says some lawmakers were likely “scared” by lobbyists.

Tobacco companies have spent handsomely this year, at $70,000 in lobbying expenditures in the first month of the session.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo denies that leadership killed the bill. He says support for it dwindled as the session continued.

Tobacco companies have spent nearly $70,000 in the first month of the 2014 General Assembly, according to lobbying data from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission

And the sponsor of a bill that would ban smoking in public places and some private businesses says that that money is sowing doubt over its chances in the House.

Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat, is the sponsor of the statewide smoking ban bill, which has languished on the House floor for over three weeks. She says that tobacco lobbyists routinely influence rural legislators and leadership of both parties to avoid tackling the issue.

“This does not surprise me, because they want to make sure that legislators who have a tobacco farmer in their backyard, they want them to believe that any tobacco farmer will be greatly offended if they support a health issue related to smoke-free.”

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says that mustering legislative support for a bill that would ban smoking in private businesses and public areas is “an uphill battle.”

Stumbo says that the bill, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, has only a handful of Republican  votes and about 30 Democratic votes.

He says despite his support, some lawmakers are apprehensive about the ban.

“The people in Prestonsburg already have it, for example. If I vote for it, the people out in the county, who might object to it, didn’t get that same local option treatment that the city people, that the folks in the city did. And we’re running into a lot of that.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear confirmed that he is working to persuade lawmakers individually to drum up support for the bill, which has languished in the House for nearly three weeks without a vote.

Over 30 localities across the state currently prohibit smoking in public areas and in some private businesses.

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