As advocates hope third time's a charm, panel moves statewide smoking ban to full House

02/06/2014 08:14 PM

In its first trip of the 2014 session before a House panel in 2014 the bill which would establish a statewide smoking ban passed 10-3.

The House Health and Welfare Committee voted Thursday 10-3 to move House Bill 173 that would ban smoking in most public buildings — including restaurants and bars — onto the full House.

Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, and Republican Rep. Julie Raque Adams of Louisville have pushed for the last two sessions to pass a statewide smoke-free law. It has yet to pass the full chamber.

Republican Sen. Julie Denton, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, joined Westrom and Adams in their efforts this year and has already filed mirror legislation in the Senate.

Westrom told the committee that she feels the legislation this year is much stronger after having been thoroughly vetted in the House Judiciary Committee last year. That led to changes in the bill.

Two Republicans — Rep. Tim Moore of Elizabethtown, and Addia Wuchner, of Florence — spoke out against the bill in the committee.

Moore said the bill just had too much overreach, especially since smoking and tobacco products are legal.

Just one month ago a poll showed that 65 percent of Kentucky respondents were in favor of a statewide smoke free law. Those results were released by the non-profit Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Gov. Steve Beshear said the research shows the issue is “gaining more traction all the time.”

“It’s a difficult issue to move. You’ve got to take several months and years to get people sort of use to this idea,” Beshear said. “Sooner or later this is going to happen in Kentucky, and I hope sooner. I hope we see some movement in this session.”


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