Group's polling trend provides fodder for advocates for statewide smoking ban

01/02/2014 10:10 PM

New polling should provide more fodder for proponents of a statewide smoking ban as it shows increasing public support across the board, said Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

The foundation’s latest polling, taken of 1,551 Kentucky adults between Oct. 25 and Nov. 26, shows that 65 percent of respondents favored a statewide smoke-free law that would ban smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants.

Zepeda, herself a former smoker, told Pure Politics on Thursday, that she believes the numbers show more Kentuckians understand the harmful effects of second-hand smoke and don’t want restaurant and bar workers subjected to it.

Of respondents, 65 percent favor the ban and 29 percent oppose it. That split has gotten wider each year the group has polled on it. Kentuckians were split 48 percent to 48 percent on it in 2010 when respondents were asked if they favored or opposed such a ban. The question changed slightly in 2011 to be more specific:

Would you favor or oppose a state law in Kentucky that would prohibit smoking in most public places, including workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars?

Since then, the percentage of those favoring the ban have gone up from 54 percent in 2011 to 59 percent in 2012 to 65 percent in 2013.

The issue, though, is by no means a partisan one in the General Assembly.

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 a full chamber. Republican Sen. Julie Denton, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, has pledged her support for the measure as well.

Others, such as Senate President Robert Stivers, have said they oppose such a ban because they don’t believe government should regulate that level of activity of private businesses. At the Northern Kentucky Forum on Thursday, two more Republican senators — Sens. Damon Thayer of Georgetown and Chris McDaniel of Taylor Mill — offered similar arguments against a ban. And Democratic Rep. Arnold Simpson of Covington said it should be decided by local communities — not in Frankfort.


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