A proposed statewide smoking ban at work and in public has sailed through a Kentucky House committee.
Supporters said the bill would protect nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The measure was approved by the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 10-3 vote Thursday.
Committee Chairman Tom Burch says nonsmokers shouldn't have to suffer from being in the same place with smokers willing to endanger their own health.
Opponents include Republican Rep. Tim Moore. He says the bill would restrict personal freedom to use a legal product.
The measure drew bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Julie Denton says she hopes the spread of information about the risks of secondhand smoke will give the bill enough momentum to get through the General Assembly.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky are once again trying to persuade a House committee to pass the the legislation this session.
The House Judiciary Committee is the second committee—after House Health and Welfare—to hear the smoking ban bill sponsored by State Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat.
This time, property rights and business rights were the main topic of questioning, but Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson told the committee that Kentucky's businesses have long supported smoking bans.
"Some say the ban will have a negative impact on business," Abramson said. "And as I said to you, the Chamber of Commerce back at home and at the state made it clear that asthma and lung cancer keep employees out of their jobs."
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban brought high-profile help from the world of sports while rallying Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda for their cause.
Urging Kentucky lawmakers to pass a statewide smoking ban, Gov. Steve Beshear and former University of Kentucky basketball player Derek Anderson spoke in favor of House Bill 190 at the rally. Currently more than 20 Kentucky communities have smoke-free laws, spanning across the state. And recent polls said that most Kentuckians support a ban.
Based on those facts, state Rep. Julie Raque Adam says the bill should be passed with bipartisan support.
"This is not a Republican or Democrat issue," said Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican who is sponsoring a House bill. "It's just one that makes sense for public health and Kentucky's economy."
Officials in a southern Kentucky city have decided to ban smoking.
The Times-Tribune reports Williamsburg City Council gave final approval on Monday to an ordinance that bans smoking in most public places, including restaurants, bars, pool halls and public areas of hotels and apartment buildings.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said he is a former smoker, but the duty of officials is to "protect everybody."
The ordinance gives employers 30 days to inform workers about the smoking ban.
Kentucky is one step closer to enacting a statewide smoking ban after legislation sailed through the House Committee on Health and Welfare Thursday.
House Bill 190, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, a Democrat of Lexington, would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment.
It's the third year the bill has been proposed, but only the second time it's been heard in committee. Gov. Steve Beshear endorsed the proposal Wednesday night in his State of the Commonwealth address.
Sylvia Suhl, of the Central Kentucky of the American Heart Association spoke at length about the bill's support from the medical community.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in public places are set to try their luck in passing such a law for the third legislative session.
Smoke Free Kentucky has started an advertising campaign to raise support for the smoking ban and a recent poll showed a majority of Kentucky support such a ban.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a statewide ban and believes such a bill would pass his chamber. A House committee passed the bill in 2012, but the bill's sponsor did not push it for a floor vote.
Many cities across Kentucky have implemented their own smoke free laws, including House Stumbo’s home, Prestonsburg. Lexington implemented the state's first smoke-free law in 2004.
And after three years of trying, the speaker says he believes his chamber will pass the bill.
For the second year in a row, a poll shows a majority of Kentucky favor a statewide smoking ban.
Last year the poll, conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, showed a majority favored a ban for the first time.
And now that number has increased to 62 percent of registered voters favoring a statewide ban. Less than 40 percent opposed such a ban, while the rest had no opinion.
“We have polled on this issue since 2010 and support for a smoke-free law has increased steadily since then,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “This issue continues to gain support with Kentuckians of all ages and from all walks of life.”
Officials in another western Kentucky city have taken a preliminary vote to ban smoking. The Kentucky New Era reports the Hopkinsville City Council narrowly passed a first reading of the measure during a meeting Tuesday night in which the mayor cast the deciding vote. A second reading must be approved before the law takes effect.
Advocates of a statewide smoking ban are taking their issue on a five day tour before Fancy Farm to drum up support. The Smoke Free Kentucky Coalition has pushed a statewide smoking ban law in the General Assembly for the last two years. And they are making next year’s legislative session a key moment in their fight.
A new poll by a nonpartisan health organization suggests a majority of Kentuckians would support a statewide smoking ban. The Kentucky Health Issues Poll is conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. And its 2011 poll, taken last fall and released this week, shows that 54 percent of Kentuckians would approve an indoor statewide smoking ban.