A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

House passes smoke-free law; bill now heads to Senate where it faces stiffer opposition

Kentucky’s House of Representatives has passed a law banning smoking in public buildings and most workplaces statewide.

According to several reports, the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, passed 51-46 in the Democratic-controlled House.

“The overwhelming support from the business community is representative of the broad support for these laws in Kentucky and across the country, regardless of political affiliation. It is time for Kentucky to join the 24 other states in being able to attract new businesses and skilled workers by adopting this popular, statewide, smoke-free law,” said supporter Dave Adkisson, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO.

Dr. Lynne M. Saddler, district director of health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department, released the following statement:

“We applaud the Kentucky House of Representatives for protecting the health of all Kentuckians with the passage of a statewide, smoke-free law.

“There is support for smoke-free laws, both locally and statewide. A poll conducted by the Health Department in the summer of 2014 found that 65 percent of Northern Kentuckians support a smoke-free law. Further, the Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows that nearly seven in ten Kentuckians favor a smoke-free law.

“Being exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke can lead to increased risk of heart disease, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and cancer. Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is believed to be responsible for more than 950 deaths in Kentucky each year.

“A smoke-free law can also reduce rates of tobacco-use in Kentucky. Currently, the adult smoking rate is among the highest in the nation, at 26 percent.

“Tobacco use has a devastating effect on lives and our economy: Nearly 8,000 Kentuckians die each year because of tobacco-related diseases. Eighty-five percent of all lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking, and Kentucky leads the nation in lung cancer deaths. Smoking is a major risk factor for the four leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or (COPD). Kentucky spends almost $2 billion per year in health care costs related to tobacco use.

“A smoke-free law is good for health and good for business.”

For more information about efforts to pass this smoke-free law, see Westrom, others passionate about statewide smoking ban, want it to be a priority in 2015 on KyForward.com.

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